Ultimate Beef Stroganoff

Hello there fellow cooks~! A couple of days ago,  I made my first “real” stroganoff and it turned out quite delicious! But of course, as with every other recipe, I did make some alterations to this recipe. But all in all, it’s a delicious, “company worthy” recipe~!

My hubby had requested Beef Stroganoff, and I’ve made the Stroganoff recipes in the past that called for cream of mushroom soup and ground beef. But this time I wanted to do “real” stroganoff – no ground beef and no cream of mushroom soup. And I’m very glad I did – because I much prefer this version, the only downside is that it wasn’t as quick as its “cream of mushroom” soup counterpart. But honestly – if you want the deep, rich, slow-cooked flavors, you’re going to have to invest some time into it. Also, I much prefer recipes where they call for  less “prepared” foods with all those preservatives and chemicals in them.

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Wham Bam, INSTANT Glam~!

In a world of drive thru coffees, drive thru dry-cleaners, drive thru pharmacies, and drive thru fast food ; why not a product that makes for an instant manicure? Well the convenience generation has finally invented a beauty product that IS a convenient manicure which not only delivers easy application – but staying power of 10-14 days on your natural nails! I have to say, at first I was more than a little skeptical, when most nail polishes chip within a couple days of application. But after going to my local drugstore and finding them on an amazing sale (plus I had some manufacturer coupons), and seeing that the patterns available could never be acheived by mere mortals; I thought I’ll give these little beauties a whirl~!

I’m talking about the new stick-on nail enamel strips. You can find them at your local drugstores and big beauty chains like Sephora. And yes, they are beauty tested – and I definitely approve! Speaking as a busy Mom, one who gets her hands dirty cleaning the house and dealing with the kids – these little inventions DO hold up better than most nail enamel (on natural nails). And anything that can keep my nails looking glam for up to 10-14 days with only one application – is a a little nail miracle in a box. I’ve tried so many brands (even salon brands) of nail polish and they all take only a couple days to start chipping pretty badly. And when this happens, after you’ve spent so long making them look so nice – it’s almost like why bother? Who has time to do their nails every other day? Most of us don’t – so these products are amazing for us with natural nails. (Although I’m sure they’d work just as well on fake nails)

 

       

They come in many different brands – the ones I’ve seen are Sally Hansen Salon Effects, Kiss Nail Dress, and Sephora has their own brand of these as well. (I’ve also seen them at Sally Beauty Supply) I’ve tried Sally Hansen and Kiss so far, I have some Sephora beauties in my stash I have yet to try. Sally Hansen comes with 16 self adhesive nail strips in each package, while Kiss Nail Dress comes with 28 nail strips in each package. For my money – you get a better value with the Kiss Strips simply because they come with more per package – but Sally Hansen has a MUCH wider variety of patterns etc. Either way, when your nails are done – they look like they’ve been done at a salon – so when you look at it that way – both brands offer amazing value compared with getting your nails done at the salon. And that’s how you should compare it – these aren’t as cheap as nail polish, but they last longer, there’s no drying time or foul smell,  and the designs are so intricate – its a much higher quality product overall.

What I found was, since I don’t have very long nails, with both Sally Hansen and with Kiss – to do all my 10 nails I only used 5 strips! So talk about adding extra bang for your buck~! Think about how many manicures you can get out of each box – now the price is looking even better. Especially when these often go on sale at Rite Aid and Walgreens, and there is frequently manufacturer coupons on both. If you don’t have any manufacturer coupons, don’t hesistate to ask your local drugstore’s beauty counter to see if they have any for you! They have saved me several times with coupons I didn’t have!

They way I apply them is:

 

1. First apply a good quality base coat. If you have natural nails like mine, make sure you invest in a good quality base coat, it really WILL extend the life of any manicure you do. Personally I got a huge bottle of Nail Life Gripper from Sally Beauty Supply for less than $5, and it will last for SO long!

 

2. Second, match up the right size strips to the corresponding nails before you unpeel them. I usually start with matching up a strip with a nail on my right hand (since I am right handed, my nail beds are slightly larger on the right hand) After I find the right size – I’ll turn it around and see which nail it will work with on my left hand. Now that you know which fingers to use first, unpeel the strip and apply it to the larger nail bed. Press down and smooth out very well. Then get a sharp pair of small scissors and cut the excess off right above your nail (being very careful not to cut yourself or your nail). Then take the other half and turn it around so that the smooth edge borders the cuticle, and apply it to your other nail. After this, use your nail file and smooth the edges so they are seemless at the end. I like to use the less rough side, so you don’t take off to much of the nail enamel.  Repeat this smoothing and filing process and do this for all of your nails after you’ve applied strips to both hands.

 

3. Apply a good quality top coat. I’m a fan of Seche Vite, and although it is pricey – ULTA or Sally Beauty will often have it on sale, so keep your eyes peeled for that! In addition Ulta will also have their coupons you can use on top of the sale prices – making it as cheap as any drugstore brand, but its much better!

 

 

 

Here you see, I just added a Sally Hansen Zebra nail strip to my ring finger on each hand to jazz up an otherwise boring manicure~! So if you aren’t ready to bling-up every finger on your hands, you can just add one or two strips to each hand, and it makes for a fun and very glam manicure.

Remember Chicas, you can keep it glam on a budget and even as a busy Mom, just pick up a package of these little beauties the next time you are at the drugstore beauty counter and treat yourself to a “salon-inspired” manicure. Its  “Wham Bam, Instant Glam” for YOUR nails~!

It was a Headband Kind of Day….

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Ever have one of those super rushed, busy, stressful days? Yeah, well today was one of those…lol….It was stressful because I got lost when I was downtown today. Which for all of you that know me – know I’m “directionally” challenged. ;) Haha – And I’m totally ok with that, I have my other strong suits so the fact that I lack in the “sense of direction” department is no sweat off my back. That IS, well except when I’m trying to actually get somewhere! ;) And you may ask – well don’t you have a navigation system? And the answer to that is – yes.

Except today, my navigation system (which is on my cell phone) kept crashing at crucial points downtown when I had to make turns. So, of course, my internal sense of direction would tell me to go the wrong way and when my nav system caught up with me, it was constantly “Re-directing” me~! All the while, my little one in the back seat, telling me “Mom, I feel like we’re going in circles – and I’m getting car sick.” This while I’m trying to find the office where we have an appointment. LOL….Yup…one of “those” days! I did finally get to my destination and thankfully not even late! Good thing I allowed extra time…even if I thought that extra time would be for traffic – and turned out to be more for all the wrong turns I made! And I was glad the car sickness ended up passing for the little man – so alls well that ends well, right?

When I’m really rushed, I try to take short cuts where I can with my getting ready routine. And I have a lot of hair – thick hair. Either way, I have to spend the time blow drying/straightening it. But when that’s over with, its a lot faster for me to just throw a headband in my hair rather than fussing with it any further. So thus, today was one of those “head band” days. But still, try to glam it up even when its one of those days – some jewellry, eyeliner and red lipstick! And hopefully nobody noticed that it was a “headband” kind of day for me. ;)

How I Started Digital Scrapbooking

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I started like everyone else doing the traditional paper scrapbooking, but after having my second child found it hard to find the time. And when my little one was down for a nap, I’d race around trying to get all my scrapbooking supplies laid out on the table, only to hear my little one wake up only minutes after I’d just begun scrapbooking. After a couple of tries, I realized this was going to be put on hold indefinitely. That is, until I discovered Digital Scrapooking.

I started digital scrapping in 2002, before there was very many resources out there for us Digital Scrapbookers. But there were a couple websites, and I’d purchased a program so I started playing around. I found out how much easier it was to digital scrapbook vs regular scrapbooking. If I didn’t like the size of a paper/embellishment/flower etc – all I had to do was re-size it, or even delete it. No harm done, no paper or money wasted! I loved the freedom it gave me – if you could dream it, you could do it! And I was HOOKED!

Fast forward to the present and now there are SO many websites where you can download digital scrapbook freebies and/or buy digital kits from designers. The digital scrapbook community has grown tremendously and the resources available are endless! In some ways, I feel as though I’ve come full circle, now that I’ve started doing Hybrid Scrapbooking (Cross between Digital and Paper Scrapbooking). Creating projects/albums using mediums from both worlds.  Its fun and doing the Hybrid Scrapping it gives the dimensional look you don’t have as much in Digital Scrapbooking alone. (Although with a good program such as Photoshop – your digital projects can look almost as dimensional as the paper scrapping counterparts!)

In future articles, I’ll share more on the topic of hybrid scrapping, as well as some of my fave digital designers, fave places to download digital freebies, different programs, techniques and much, MUCH more~! So stay tuned~!

Where is my Child?!?!?!?!

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Ever have one of those moments as a parent where there is a split second (or maybe longer) where you truly DON”T know where your child is? Well I had one of those moments today! Nothing to worry about – just one of those moments when you go to pick up your child from school and they aren’t where they are supposed to be….And you feel that panic set in…

Well today – my 9 year old wasn’t in the Gym where the parents always pick up their kids. When I asked his teacher if she knew where he was – she didn’t know. Because he’s ALWAYS in the Gym when I come to get him. So she went into the bathrooms looking for him, while I stayed in the Gym (silently concerned). And she returned after a couple of minutes to let me know he had just forgotten his watch in the classroom and had run back to get it. Ahh…relief set in and I joked about it with his teacher and with my son.

But that sparked some questions in me. I thought to myself – would he know what to do if a stranger came up to him? What would he say? And how would he handle it? So on the drive home, this little incident initiated some good conversation between myself and my little buddy. I asked him what he would do. And he told me – and of course it wasn’t what I’d hoped for. But this isn’t a time to scold your kids, they don’t know if you don’t tell them or show them. So I gently said, well if this”insert scenario” or if that “insert another scenario” happened, then you should say this, or do that.

Whatever you feel comfortable with or works for your family – just give your kids different scenarios and find out how they would respond. Then tell them whether that’s the right way to handle it or there might be a better way to handle it. Because we can’t expect our kids to know instinctively how to handle situations like these – because our kids are instinctively good-natured and trusting. Now I’m not advocating being paranoid – but kids need direction on this topic here and there. Because for many families these kind of situations don’t always have a happy ending. And I want the peace of mind in knowing I’ve given my child the proper direction that could help him if this situation ever arose. (Of course I hope that never will)

So it turned out to be a nice little talk – didn’t last super long. But I know I “reached” him and he understood. And I do appreciate these teachable moments that come up as parents unexepectedly, we must always take advantage of those however they come to us and continue molding and guiding our little loved ones. <3