Friday, September 23, 2016

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Oatmeal

This yummy breakfast is super simple to make.. Just pour all of the ingredients into a slow cooker before you go to bed. In the morning, you’ll be able to fumble your way to the kitchen with your eyes half-closed by following the scent of freshly baked banana bread. All you need to do is spoon your serving into a bowl, top it with chopped walnuts, maple syrup, and almond milk, and your banana bread breakfast is ready to eat (or heat it up in the microwave if it’s been stored in the fridge).

If you’re one of those people who leaps out of bed at the first twinkle of the alarm, you might consider the additional, but worthwhile, step of toasting the walnuts you’ll sprinkle on your Banana Bread Oatmeal. Simply heat a dry pan on the stove and toss in the walnuts. Gently shake the pan as they cook, until the nuts smell… well, nutty… then immediately remove them from the heat. WARNING: Do not attempt to toast walnuts if you can barely remember your own name before a cup – make that two – of coffee. Nuts can go from delightfully toasted to charcoal in the blink of a (very sleepy) eye.
Slow Cooker Banana Bread Oatmeal Recipe

Slow Cooker Banana Bread Oatmeal
Total Time: 8 hrs. 10 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: None
Yield: 6 servings, about 3/4 cup each

3 cups water
4 cups unsweetened almond milk, divided use
1 cup dry steel-cut oats
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
6 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ cup pure maple syrup
6 Tbsp. chopped raw walnuts

1. Place water, 1 cup almond milk, oats, bananas, flaxseed, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a 3-quart slow cooker; cover. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until oats are soft but chewy.
2. Top each serving evenly with maple syrup, walnuts, and remaining almond milk; serve immediately.
Slow Cooker Banana Bread Oatmeal Recipe

Photographs by Kirsten Morningstar

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The 8 Best Dry Shampoos

From the Team Beachbody Blog by Lili Ladaga
Dry shampoo

Washing your hair every day is for the birds — and bad for your hair. Enter dry shampoos, a veritable gift from the hair gods. This miraculous beauty product saves time, prevents damage to your luscious locks, and is incredibly versatile: You can spritz it on after a workout or use it to perk up your hairs between washings. You can even use it on clean hair to add texture.

Forget the days of sprinkling baby powder in your hair and attempting (in vain) to brush it all out. Dry shampoos come in both aerosol and powder form and leave zero trace.

Here are my top dry shampoo picks to keep your coif looking and smelling fresh.

Dry shampoo

1. Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo, Keratin Infusion 4.3 ounce  $4.99 (4.3 oz.)

Suave makes one of the best inexpensive dry shampoos on the market. Keratin is a protein found in your hair (and nails and skin) that protects it from damage from heat styling and chemical treatments. The keratin in this particular dry shampoo can also help your hair look shinier and smoother — and who doesn’t want that?!

Dry shampoo

2. Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo, 7 Ounce $6 (7 oz.)

This is another great basic dry shampoo if you’re a gal who doesn’t want to spend too much money. It doesn’t do much else besides freshen up your roots, but for the price, it’s really all you need. A great clean scent with super absorption, this product hits the mark.

Dry shampoo

3. Batiste Dry Shampoo, Cherry, 6.73 Ounce $7.99 (6.73 oz.)

This dry shampoo can hang with the most luxe dry shampoos on the market. Batiste is one of my personal favorites for three reasons. 1. It comes in a wide array of fragrances, from floral to fresh and powdery. 2. It comes in various color formulas for women who want to touch up their roots in between salon visits. 3. It’s an unbelievable price for what you get. Depending on where you buy it, the price ranges from $5.99 to $8.99.

Dry shampoo

4. Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-powder 0.5 oz $12 (.3 oz), $24 (2 oz)

Bumble and Bumble is well-known for its styling products, but this is definitely one of the line’s shining stars. This fantastic powder is super absorbing and also pumps up the volume. It’s great for all hair types, but especially good for women with thin hair who are looking for that extra oomph.

Dry shampoo

5. Captain Blankenship - Organic Mermaid Dry Shampoo (4 oz) $14 (2.4 oz.), $24 (4.8 oz.)

If you’re an all-natural kind of woman, you’ll love this one. Captain Blankenship’s line is made from organic plant and mineral materials. Bonus? It’s scented with rose and geranium essential oils.

Dry shampoo

6. Kardashian Beauty Take 2 Dry Shampoo, 5.3 Ounce $14.99 (5.3 oz.)

Before you start hating, I have to say I was honestly impressed by this dry shampoo. The “magic sauce” is black seed oil derived from the Nigella sativa plant, which has a rich history as a folk remedy for a wide array of ailments though the jury is still out on what it actually does for your hair. Either way, as a dry shampoo, it’s well-priced for how it performs: It smells intoxicating, absorbs excess oil, and doesn’t weight your hair down. Done and done.

Dry shampoo

7. Drybar Triple Sec: The perfect 3-in-1 $26 (4.2 oz) $13 (1.6 oz.)

The tagline for this product is “texturize, amplify, refresh” — and they aren’t kidding. It’s everything the name promises and is worth the price. The smell is amazing — a yummy vanilla-like scent — and exactly what you want to spray on your hair to give it a lift after work before heading out to happy hour (or a date!). The travel-sized option is perfect for your purse or desk.

Dry shampoo

8. ORIBE Hair Care Dry Texturizing Spray, 8.5 fl. oz.$44 (8.5 oz.), $22 (purse size)

Oribe is one of the most luxurious haircare brands on the market. Their products are not kind on the wallet, but they’re definitely kind on your tresses, and boy, do they smell good. They’ve even created two different perfumes from the scents they use in their haircare line: Cote d’Azure with notes of lemon, bergamot, and orange and Silver Pearl, which blends mint, water lily, green fig, and bamboo.

The Dry Texturizing Spray isn’t technically a dry shampoo, but the award-winning spray is a cult classic and is widely used in the beauty community. It can be used as an alternative to classic dry shampoos, and doesn’t leave any powdery white residue. It also adds fantastic volume and creates a tousled texture. Spray it all over your hair, not just the roots, to vamp up your look.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Exercises For Your ...Eyes? Yep!

Okay…so I heard all in my 30’s that when I hit 40 years old, it all goes downhill…especially with eyesight. Well, I hit 40 and nothing. My eyesight was just as great as it had always been. I thought, “whatever…I am obviously immune to this aging thing…” #wishfulthinking
 I then hit 42 and that all changed. 

Yes, I am 42 years old and I wear reading glasses #omg I resisted for a while because I thought I could just deny it and my eyesight would magically get better. It didn’t. I broke down and bought a cute pair of glasses and realized this is my life now. No shame in it, but growing up as a kid having to wear glasses, I was not excited to  have to return to them now.

I was actually born cross-eyed #truestory and when I was 3 months old had an eye operation. My older brother always told me that in the operation they took my right eye and switched it with the left and vice versa. The sad thing…I believed him for years until I was older and realized if that were true, they would be going in the opposite directions. Oh the fun of an older brother!

So after my operation and all through elementary school I had to wear glasses and for a period I even had to wear a patch over one eye (insert pirate joke here). To make things worse, I grew up in the late 70’s / early 80’s when glasses were NOT cute. They were thick and just really, really ugly.

So you can see why I resisted the glasses thing for as long as I could.

Now I have my reading glasses but I have noticed when I use them it seems to make things WORSE when I don’t use them. Like if I use them early in the day, my eyes hurt if I don’t continue using them later in the day. And I’m sorry, but that’s just not cool. So I started looking into this “old age eye thing” and learned that this aliment is called presbyopia and comes with age.

According to ...
"Presbyopia generally is believed to stem from a gradual thickening and loss of flexibility of the natural lens inside your eye.

These age-related changes occur within the proteins in the lens, making the lens harder and less elastic over time. Age-related changes also take place in the muscle fibers surrounding the lens. With less elasticity, the eye has a harder time focusing up close.”   

Okay so after I read that I started thinking…if it is about the eye muscle losing elasticity, can’t there be an exercise to correct / improve it? I mean, I love my exercises, so of course that was my first thought. Guess what; there are.

Now it appears that some websites say these exercise work, and others say they do not. Livestrong states that “ it's unlikely that any form of exercise will alter your eye's shape to cure the problem, according to the All About Vision website. The efficacy of these exercises for presbyopia haven't been tested through rigorous clinical trials, reports the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide”.

My thought are…why not at least try them and see? I mean, what harm can it do? So that is my mission now. To get my eye exercises in each day just as I would work my cardio and strength training.

So my next step was to find these exercises. Done.

The funny thing…there are “warm up” exercises to do before you get into the “main” exercises. For some reason that just cracks me up, but it is what it is and I guess it makes sense since technically it is a muscle and I warm up my other muscles before I exercise them, so here we go…

The following exercises were taken from


Before you start with any exercise, you need to do some warm-up exercises. Use this warm-up to loosen the ocular eye muscles and improve the amount of blood flowing to the surrounding parts of the eyes. This in turn will increase the amount of oxygen that is getting to your eyes and help to improve your vision.

Close your eyes and rotate them 10-15 times in a clockwise direction. When you have finished do the same again but in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure that you do this before you start your exercises and ensure that you keep your eyes closed at all times.

Open your eyes and allow yourself a moment or two to regain your focus. You’ll now be ready to start on the next few exercises.

Distant Object Focusing

Hold something close to your face, about six inches or so. This should be something small like a pencil or your index finger. Focus on that object as best as you can for about a minute and a half. Then change your focus onto something about 10 feet away, but don’t change the direction of where you are looking.

Try to look at something directly ahead of you. Once your focus is clear on the distant object, go back to focusing on the object close to your face. Again, look at it for about 90 seconds.

Repeat this process five or six times.

Arm’s Length Focusing

The premise for this exercise is the same as the distant object exercise. Here you need to extend your arm away from your body and put your hand into the ‘thumbs up’ position. Focus on your thumb and then slowly bring your thumb towards your face and keep your thumb in focus.

When it gets too difficult to focus on your thumb, then move your arm slowly back out to the extended position, but continue to stay focused on the thumb.

Keep going for about three to five minutes. Never take your focus away from your thumb.

Clock Face Exercise

Complete this exercise last and use it as a warm down exercise. Imagine that you have a clock face in front of your eyes. Move your eyes vertically from 6 to 12 o’clock. Do this 20 times. Then move your eyes from 9 to 3 o’clock. Again do this 20 times.

After doing this exercise, you should close your eyes and let them rest for a while.

Sounds pretty simple and something I can add in to my routine each day.

So now I have to know….

Have you hit that 40-year old “old eye” stage? Have you broken down and gotten eye glasses? What are your thoughts about the eye exercise? Think they will work? Are you going to try them or just stick with the glasses?