Easy Weeknight Dinner: Oven Baked Hash

I don’t know about you, but I’m super into easy, but delicious weeknight meals. If you have time to wait for dinner to be ready while you clean, shower, or work out, I have the perfect recipe for you. What I call “hash” is definitely one of our go-tos featuring pretty much any leftover veggies or meats that can be baked.

You can easily get in your protein, carb and veggie into one easy meal. Just chop, arrange, and add seasonings (salt/pepper, Italian seasoning blend, garlic, cayenne pepper, etc.) to your mix. Then pop that bad boy in the oven at 445 for 40 min or until a fork can easily go through a potato/brussel sprout and voila! Dinner is served…in a bowl.

Below are some of my favs to bake into hash:

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Chorizo (or Soy Chorizo from TJs is bomb.com)
  • Chicken apple sausage
  • Green apples
  • Cherry tomatoes

 

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11 Beauty Product Must-Haves Without Breaking the Bank

I’m all about finding good deals and beauty products are no exception. Here are my favorite budget beauty products that I’ve tested and trialed and absolutely LOVE!

  1. Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate. For matte lipstick lovers, this is the BEST. It seriously stays on all day, it’s hydrating, smells good AND it’s only $4.99 at Target or Walgreens. My go-to color is 104.
  2. Nailtiques Formula. My mom heard about this through a friend so we tried it out together. My nails have always been a little weak and brittle, but after using this for a couple weeks, they were not only growing like crazy, but also growing out strong! Now, I only need to use it every few times I paint my nails.
  3. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish. Obsessed. I am an avid nail painter as all of my past roommates know, and I have to peel off everything and repaint anytime there’s a chip. While this isn’t as good as getting a real gel manicure, it lasts way longer than normal polish…about a week on fingers (without any chips) and up to a month on toes. Get it from Target since it’s $3-4 cheaper than other stores.
  4. Rosehip Oil. This is seriously a miracle product. I was searching for something to get rid of my melasma on my forehead and have tried both crop serum and lavender oil to no avail. I came across this formula and after about 3 months of using it fairly regularly, not only is my melasma almost gone, but I also have totally noticed that any small wrinkles I had are gone. Just a few drops a day does wonders for your skin and also makes it smell oh-so-good.
  5. Loreal Future-e Day Lotion with SPF 15. I’ve been using this for years because it doesn’t make me feel oily like a lot of other moisturizers I’ve tried. I apply this after the rosehip oil every morning. I only wish it came in SPF 30!
  6. St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub. I love this scrub because it totally keeps blackheads at bay but also keeps my face really soft and smooth. Get it at Target for less than $4.
  7. Benefit Gimme BROW. For someone who just wants a little extra brow definition, this stuff is great and easy to use.
  8. Shikai Color Reflect Platinum Shampoo. Perfect for anyone with blonde hair or blonde highlights that wants to keep that blonde nice and bright. Your stylist has probably used purple shampoo on you before and this is a cheap way to do it at home a couple times a week! Don’t worry, it’s not going to turn your brown hair blonde…it’ll just focus on the blonde parts.
  9. Shea Butter and Coconut Oil Hair Mask. For $4.99 at Trader Joes, this stuff is seriously amazing. My hair was instantly silkier and I ended up stocking up on more tubes because we all know that sometimes our favorite products may go out of stock for months at a time.
  10. Explore Naturals Deodorant. After trying out multiple different natural deodorants, this one is my favorite thus far. It leaves no smell, goes on smoothly.
  11. Loreal Ever Pure Shampoo/Conditioner. I looked for a good sulfate and paraben free shampoo and conditioner for awhile and tried out many different shampoos and conditioners. I have pretty fine hair and all of those I tried tended to leave my hair very flat, while this one leaves the volume but doesn’t come with the toxic ingredients.

What are your favorite beauty products? Comment below!

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Olympic National Park & Seattle 4-Day Itinerary

I’ve been wanting to go to Olympic National Park for awhile and we finally booked a five-day trip into Seattle to go on our road trip. Olympic National Park is a ways from Seattle, especially if you want to check out the Hoh Rainforest, which is about 4.5 hours away.

We spent two nights at Three Rivers Resort and two nights at my good friend’s place in Redmond. A little over two days turned out to be plenty of time in the park.

One thing to note is that it’s a lot different than other national parks we’ve been to in that you can’t really drive around much INSIDE the park. All of the hot spots are located on the outer edges and there are no roads connecting them within the park, so you basically drive a loop around the entire park and enter into different locations.

Day 1

Lavendar Farms

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En route to our first stop, Hurricane Ridge, we noticed a ton of lavendar fields in Port Angeles that we could stop at. When I saw the first sign for a farm, I yelled “go right!!” and my awesome husband immediately bee-lined down a side road towards the farm

Hurricane Ridge

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I was worried we wouldn’t have enough time to visit this part of the park but I am SO glad we made it happen. The drive up was a bit concerning since it was so foggy we could barely see four feet in front of the car, but as we got higher up, the clouds cleared and the sun was shining!

Hurricane Ridge is absolutely stunning from all angles. Not to mention, the visitor center overlooks snow capped mountains in the distance. I think this has to be the prettiest place I’ve ever eaten a PB&J.

There are multiple trails – a couple long ones and a few right around the visitor center, to get a feel for the area. We took all of the short ones and thought it was a perfect mix!

Elwha River

I’m all about random stops when I see something beautiful and this river definitely deserved it.

elwha river

Lake Crescent & Marymere Falls

Lake Crescent

I absolutely loved Lake Crescent! The water is a stunning mix of blues and greens and there are plenty of trails to tour around the area. We hiked to Marymere Falls and got a peak at the rainforest portion of Olympic National Park, before taking the trail down to the lake and back to our car.

Forks

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Accommodations are limited near the park, especially if you are wanting to go to the Hoh Rainforest. We ended up staying in Forks at the Three Rivers Resort, which I highly recommend. We were able to get two last-minute cabins – one being a “tiny house” complete with a bed located above the kitchen a bathroom, a mini hot tub and a large deck with a fire pit just outside. The second night we spent in a regular cabin which was also great.

The Twilight series took place in Forks, although our Indian friend said that it had to be filmed in Oregon. Forks is ALL ABOUT Twilight. Our resort in particular had an entire Twilight menu, a “beware of vampires sign” at the property. While I haven’t thought about Twilight in years, it was pretty cool to see how much of an impact a movie can make on tourism.

Rialto Beach

In July, it was super chilly and breezy here so make sure to dress accordingly. There were a ton of rocks on this beach and huge pieces of “driftwood”. By huge, I mean you stand on them and look small.

La Push

Fun Fact: In watching twenty minutes of Twilight in our cabin, La Push was referenced a couple times in regard to where Jacob lives. Other than that, I would recommend bringing some beer or wine and taking a seat on some driftwood. The one and only restaurant/bar for 20 minutes is located right next to the water, but good luck getting in! There was a two-hour wait on a Tuesday.

Day 2

Hoh River

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We booked a trip with a local Indian to fish the Hoh River. He gave us the choice of fishing at the hatchery or taking a “float” down the river. We decided to go with scenery over high odds of catching fish and the scenery did not disappoint! Even if you don’t want to fish for 6 hours, definitely make sure to walk along the river – it’s incredible

Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest

After our fishing trip, we drove back up the road to the entrance of Hoh Rainforest and into the park, which took about an hour. The main reason I wanted to go to Olympic National Park was to see the Hall of Mosses. And boy, they were amazing.

It was pretty crowded but luckily not too bad! There are a couple longer trails that have way less people on them as well. If you can’t make it all the way to Hoh Rainforest, you can check out Marymere Falls for a slightly less amazing rainforest.

Kalaloch Lodge

Okay, this was hands down our favorite place outside of the park. After a long day of fishing, visiting the Hoh Rainforest, and then exploring a couple more beaches nearby, we were pretty pooped and ready for a drink.

We got seated on the outdoor deck overlooking the beach and got lucky with t-shirt and shorts weather. We ended up hanging out on the deck for over three hours – quite possibly the longest we’re ever stayed at a restaurant.

Day 3

Quinault Lake Lodge

On our way back to Seattle, we stopped by Quinault for breakfast, which was excellent. The restaurant overlooks part of the lodge, a peaceful large lawn and the lake. Pretty much all you can ask for.

Aberdeen

Kurt Cobain Landing

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I’m a big Nirvana fan, so we obviously had to stop by Kurt’s bridge in Aberdeen.

Tinderbox Coffee

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While in Aberdeen, I also found out I’m a big hemp milk fan. Not to mention lavender lattes…omgggg.

Seattle

Old Stove Brewing Company

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Surprise! Drinks with a view yet again. We met up with our friends and spent a couple hours enjoying the sea breeze and beers.

Kirkland

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When I think of Kirkland I think of Costco, of course. However, the town of Kirkland is anything but cheap and economical. It’s quite possibly the cutest town I’ve ever been to. Situated on the water, there are a few streets “downtown” with plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. We had dinner at Cactus, a super hip Mexican place that makes dishes like Butternut Squash Enchiladas, which was to die for.

Day 4

Seattle

Portage Bay Cafe

Started the day off strong with a big brunch at Portage, which was bomb.com. With options like Burrito Nayarit featuring uli’s chorizo and a sunny-side up egg, or smoked salmon benedict, there are plenty of yummy options to choose from.

Fremont

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After breakfast, we continued on to Fremont, where Seattle’s famous Troll and Fremont Brewery lives.

Lake Washington

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For a small fee, you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and boats on Lake Washington. We settled on two canoes and spent an hour paddling around the lily pads, seeing turtles and tons of birds. Great way to end our trip!

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15 Budget Red Wines Under $15

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Between the sugar hangover and the bloated belly, I can’t bring myself to drink sweet whites or really any white wines for that matter. Since my Chardonnay days ended towards the end of college, I’ve become more of a dry-full-bodied-red-wine-with-an-oaky-base kind of gal. So if you like sweet Pinots, this post isn’t for you.

I am all about finding a nice & affordable, yet delicious full-bodied red. People say there’s a huge difference between expensive wine and cheap wine. Maybe if you can afford a $70 bottle of Caymus Collection for a 2 glass Friday night, then there’s a difference. But $30 vs. $15? I beg to differ.

Matt and I started taking notes on every bottle we drink because we always seem to forget which ones were just “eh”, especially if they have a cool label. I included some of our notes below.

Here are my top choices for bargain reds, so you can afford to split a bottle…or even 3 on a good night…without breaking the bank. P.S. Some of these are usually priced higher, but I get them at a lower rate by buying 6 bottles at a time at places like Ralphs.

1. Trader Joes Coastal Merlot – $4.49

I’ve tried the Cab Sav in this collection and I’m not a fan. But WOAH MERLOT. TJs, you win with your new-age $2 buck chuck.

2. Trader Joes Growers Reserve Merlot – $4.99

We note this one as “smooth & dry AF”.

3. Arrow Creek Merlot – $4.99

“Warm & full-bodied”.

4. La Finca Tempranillo – $3.99

Getting out of our cab/merlot comfort zone with this one. “Spicy and unique”.

5. The Original Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon – $8.99

Matt calls this one “slutty”.

6. Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon – $8.99

I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t like this signature cab.

7. Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon – $9.99

8. 7 Moons Red Blend – $9.99

“Easy drinkin. Medium-bodied, with a smooth after taste.” Table wine for any occasion.

9. Robert Mondavi Merlot – $8.99

“Delicious” – 5/5

10. Josh Cabernet Sauvignon – $11.99

Oh, how I love Josh. He’s a constant in my life and every time he’s around, I’m overcome with delight. Don’t try to find him at a commercial grocery store or he’ll be over $20. Trader Joes sells him at a casual $11.99 and my heart is happy.

11. Robert Hall Cabernet Sauvignon

Hands down favorite. My mouth waters just thinking about it. You can get it for a good deal at Ralphs when it’s on the buy 6 bottles sale.

12. Raymond Merlot – $13.99

Dry, smoky and extremely delicious.

13. Gnarly Head Merlot – $11.99

“Bold, sophisticated, & smooth.”

14. Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon – $14.99

Pretty much have realized we like any red wine that has a man’s name in it. I’m not sure how it’s worked out like that, but it has.

15. Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon – $14.99

See?

16. Chateau Ste Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon – $13.99

Classic favorite of ours. “Warm, smooth, no after taste”.

Have a favorite I’m missing? Comment below – I’d love to try it!

 

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DIY Pressed Flower Frames

In an earlier post, I shared how I preserved my wedding bouquet. Since then, I’ve been saving and pressing, saving and pressing. I LOVE making art out of flowers and I’ve found that it can make a perfect gift for others as well. So far, I’ve gifted my mom and sister-in-law framed flowers and I can’t wait to create more with my favorites!

Laura’s Preserved Wedding Bouquet

My sister-in-law married her college sweetheart at the University of Redlands in May 2018 and I snuck away with a bouquet and the Redlands table number to create a framed version of her bouquet for her birthday.

pressed-wedding-bouquet

Mother’s Day Framed Flowers

When I was little, my mom read me the classic book “Love You Forever” and it became our thing. She made up a song to go along with it that she sang me to sleep with every night. She even made a funny version of the song that has stuck with us my entire life. For mother’s day, I asked my aunt, a talented Sacramento calligrapher  who owns The Lovely Hue, to help me with this special project. I absolutely love how it turned out!

pressed-flowers

My Preserved Wedding Bouquet

I tested out my first pressed flower art on my wedding bouquet, which was very special to me. Two of my bridesmaids, my mom, and I scavenge the perfect flowers from a wholesale shop and Trader Joes two days before the wedding. I was even able to find one small bunch of ranunculus  – my personal fav – for my bridal bouquet. I wrote about how I preserved my wedding bouquet in an earlier post.

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