My Life Has Become a Wes Anderson Movie

boy scouts

Courtesy of Pixabay

Greetings blogging friends! My sincere apologies for my internet hiatus. I’m afraid I’ll be away awhile longer, but I hope to be back in full force by the middle of April. Things have gone (quite) a bit Wes Anderson-ish around here and the Cozy and Sage family have some hurdles to tackle before we expect to be back to normal.

Wish us luck?

Best to all of you! And stay cozy!

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Tuesday Thoughts: To Makeup or Not to Makeup?

5 minute face makeup

As I sit here with my coffee and one of my favorite YouTube channels blaring in the background, I shop through some online makeup shops while simultaneously checking for blog reviews. After an hour or so of this (having filled my Nordstrom’s cart to over $200), I pause to think about how much I will actually use these products.

Do I love eyeshadow? Absolutely!

Will I actually wear it? To be honest, most mornings are consumed by coffee and making myself look vaguely presentable for work. Of course, I do usually wear makeup, but only two or three products, and nothing that would require wielding a brush in any kind of precise manner (although my reliance upon concealer borders on addiction).

It feels weird to state that makeup fills any sort of utilitarian purpose in my life, that idea makes my life seem so trivial. However, having said that, the manner in which I actually use makeup IS quite utilitarian.

Am I trying to be artistic or relax myself every morning, hunched over my makeup mirror, attempting to apply products in a pleasing, yet mostly undetectable manner? No, I’m just trying not to look too sick or tired to work. That’s the truth of it, no matter how I attempt to delude myself.

Which brings me to the next logical questions…Am I uncomfortable with how I look? Am I not able to accept myself as I am? Why is that?

It’s true that over the course of history both men and women have worn makeup for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, status, class, culture, etc. The practice of painting our faces is in no way anything new. However, in this day and age of barefaced models posting selfies on Instagram and everywhere else, one would think that going “un-made” might be more the norm.

The thing that perplexes me the most is that while I desperately want to accept my face as it is and bear it to the world, I am also concerned about the perception it gives. Wearing makeup does give me confidence (by helping me not look dead), and yet it simultaneously saddens me that I can’t allow myself to go to work without it.

It seems like such a *ahem* superficial thing, but my internal conflict about the status of my makeup dependence can get rather deep at times.

There are so many folks I see everyday with beautiful faces, made up and not. I often wonder to myself why or why don’t they wear makeup. It’s one of those questions I wish I could pose to the masses.

Hey, maybe that’s what Twitter is for…

I’d love to hear from you about what your feelings are about wearing makeup; stay cozy!

Three (Almost) No Prep Vegetarian Dinners

Sometimes life just feels as though it is moving too fast. Well, ok . . . maybe that’s most of the time (to me, anyway). On those weeks when I have not been a dutiful meal planner and have not created a detailed list of groceries, dinners can become quite chaotic in the Cozy and Sage household. I am a diehard believer in the power of planning (meals and everything else), but when I do fall off the wagon, these are some of the meals that save our family dinners.

Note: One challenge in preparing vegetarian meals for my family is ensuring the meal contains enough protein. Canned beans have become an easy, healthy go-to solution for us; thus, all of the recipes below use some form of canned bean.

Baja Potatoes

baja potato

  • 2-4+ baking potatoes (depending on the number of individuals you are feeding)
  • 1 can black beans (mostly drained)
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • Adobo seasoning
  • chopped onions (if desired)

When I’m running late and dinner needs to be fast, I love to throw a few washed and pricked baking potatoes in the microwave. After those are done, I microwave the black beans for about 2 minutes with some of the Adobo seasoning and about a quarter of a cup of chopped onions (optional) stirred in. Then I simply set the potatoes and the toppings out on the table and allow folks to dig in!

(Simple) Red Beans and Rice

simple red beans and rice

  • 1 bag frozen rice steamer bag (I use frozen brown rice steamer bags from my local Kroger)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (half-drained…leave a little juice)
  • salt, pepper, cumin, onion powder (or garlic powder) to taste

First, I toss my bag of frozen brown rice into the microwave and cook. (Sometimes I am super ambitious and make my own frozen bags of rice ahead of time, but I usually resort to store-bought. Just being honest.) After the rice is done, I combine the beans, tomatoes (with a little of the fluid), and my desired spices, then microwave the beans for about 2 minutes. When done, stir the rice and beans together in a large bowl and serve. Et Viola! Dinner is served!

(Effortless) Chickpea Salad

chickpea salad

  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese (goat cheese makes for a creamier dressing)
  • favorite Italian dressing, added to taste (our favorite is the Kraft Tuscan House Italian)

Chop, chop, chop!  Toss everything in a bowl, stir, and serve. It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks! This is an especially nice dinner for hot summer evenings (and a handy side dish for other meals, too).

While it’s true I use a microwave to cook most of these meals (because I am almost always in a rush), they can be prepared in an oven/on a stove top as well. Just FYI.

I hope this post is helpful and thanks so much for stopping by! Stay cozy!

The Cozy and Sage Shop

woman shopping

Courtesy of Pixabay

Cozy and Sage has launched a new shop! In it you will find links to our favorite products, as well as links to reviews if we have done one. Only items that we (my family and I) absolutely love will be listed and the list will grow on a monthly basis.

Be aware that the sales links are usually affiliate links and will provide Cozy and Sage with a small commission for each purchase. Proceeds will go towards supporting Cozy and Sage’s web presence and administration fees (i.e. hosting).

Please do not feel pressured to purchase anything from our shop. I just wanted to let people know it was there, in case they were curious.

I am ever so grateful for all the support and encouragement I have had from friends and fellow bloggers in my blogging journey! I am honored that you folks have stopped by to read and engage!

Best wishes to all; stay cozy!

Review: Laura Mercier Crème Cheek Colour

The first thing to say is that, used with discretion, this is arguably the most natural looking blush that I have ever used.Laura Mercier Creme Cheek ColourI am still perfecting the precise movements of my application method, and so far I am preferring fingers to brushes. I know that many prefer to use brushes with cream products, however, I think this cream lends itself to the cheek better with the aid of the warmth and pressure of finger tips.

This product DOES NOT accentuate any dryness in my skin whatsoever, as I suppose could be expected from a cream product. I was surprised, however, by its lack of greasiness (we’ll see how it fares in the heat of summer).

The color is well concentrated, so not much is needed per use which means that this tiny container should last me at least six months. Also, its dainty size means that this product can fit into any makeup bag and would make a wonderful travel companion!

Speaking of colors, although the selection is small, the colors seem to be both powerful and versatile for most skin tones. I chose oleander, the lightest pink, to match my ghostly skin tone after this long winter. It can also be applied in varied amounts to give more or less color as desired.Laura Mercier Creme Cheek Colour

This product lasts all day on my skin, without accentuating texture or dehydration. Although I do not have oily skin per se, sometimes my cheeks can go a bit greasy and this blush still seemed to work well, not concentrating shine or oil. Therefore, I think most skin types, except perhaps the oiliest, could use this product with ease.

I am in love with the tiny, yet sturdy compact, and have been using this product with gusto over the last few weeks! Highly recommend!

Stay cozy!

*For links to products, go to our shop page!

9 Tips for Navigating the Healthcare System

Twenty years working with and around healthcare professionals, as well as being an occasional patient, has taught me a few things about our current healthcare system (in the U.S., anyway). Along the way I have a gathered a handful of suggestions that I give to friends and family (when asked), and that I use myself when interacting with what I feel to be the primary elements of healthcare.

DNA

Courtesy of Pixabay.

*This article is NOT intended to give medical advice. The intent of this article is to offer ideas about how to navigate the healthcare system. Readers use the ideas in this article at their own risk. (I really do think they are good tips, though!)

Your Doctor

  1. Be candid. Your doctor needs to have all of the information in order to access your situation accurately. Missing bits of information can delay diagnosis as well as treatment. No need to be embarrassed, physicians are trained to deal with what might seem to be the most personal physical issues. If you’re worried about privacy, take heart. In the United States, HIPAA laws help keep your information safe from others, and also available to you.
  2. Write stuff down. This is important before and after the appointment. Writing down details prior to your appointment about frequency, duration, and type of symptoms can help give your clinician a clearer picture of the situation, and you can avoid the chance of blanking on important details while in the office (spoken from experience). If your doctor isn’t already in the habit of giving patients a printout after the appointment, detailing the visit, writing your insights down right away will help you remember important points and instructions that you may have been given.
  3. On occasion, don’t be afraid of getting a second opinion. As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes medicine is more an art than a science. This means that not every treatment will work in the same fashion for every patient. Getting a fresh perspective from another trained professional and trying a new modality to solve a problem can occasionally be the difference between successful treatment and failure.
pharmacy

Courtesy of Pixabay.

Your Pharmacist

  1. Pay attention. Most pharmacists have trained at least six to eight years, and many hold doctorate degrees in pharmacy. You may only spend five minutes at the counter when picking up your prescription, however, a lot of critical information can be conveyed in those five minutes (side effects/possible interactions/what to do if you miss a dose). Paying close attention and asking questions at the counter ensures that you get the most out of your prescriptions.
  2. Read the label and call back if you need to. It might sound odd, nevertheless, sometimes instructions change depending on various factors, not limited to: what size/strength the pharmacy has in stock, if the pharmacist noted an issue with the prescription and called your doctor to verify the order. At any rate, always read the label and confirm the instructions with the pharmacist before you leave. If you have questions, or feel as though you might have missed some information from your visit to your pharmacy, feel free to call back. In my experience, the best pharmacists are more than happy to share their knowledge!
  3. Plan ahead. To make your visit to the pharmacy quicker and easier, make sure you have your prescription insurance card (sometimes a separate card from your medical insurance card) with you, and that you know your drug allergies and the names of other medicines that you take (over-the-counter medications, as well). When ordering refills, note that many physician’s offices request 24 to 72 hours to reply to a refill request. Try to order at least three (business) days before you will run out of medication so that the physician has adequate time to call back the pharmacy for your request.

Your Insurance

  1. Avoid Surprises. When your physician recommends a new procedure or treatment, it may be helpful to call your insurance company ahead of time. This allows you to confirm whether or not the procedure/treatment is covered (and at what cost to you). If it’s not covered, it may be worth asking your doctor for an alternative modality.
  2. Understand your policy. Not nearly as simple as most of us would like, knowing things like what your deductible is, how much your copays are, and what kinds of services are covered can help you avoid unexpected bills, and also help you determine if your policy serves your needs.
  3. When traveling… When you are on your way out-of-town, a quick review of what your “in” and “out” of network hospitals are, might be a good idea. Nobody plans on getting ill over vacation, but (again, speaking from experience) it happens. Knowing what facilities your insurance will cover at your destination can help lower your stress levels (at least a little). If you are heading out of your home country, you may want to find out if you have overseas coverage.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy year! I hope at least a few of these tips are helpful to some of you. Stay cozy!

Super Simple Homemade Granola

As we enter the new year and attempt to re-adjust to real life after the whirlwind of the holidays, getting back to eating real food (and not all the chocolates) tends to take priority again. I myself, am just beginning to recover from my continuous holiday food-coma, and am finally curious about what is actually in my food again. What better way to begin the year than with a hearty homemade granola?

super simple granola recipe

A great morning.

I have loved granola my whole life, and I find it to be both a tempting snack and hearty breakfast. For the longest time though, homemade granola seemed like such an elusive and complicated undertaking, requiring time and ingredients that I didn’t have.

Turns out, homemade granola is not nearly as arduous as I thought! In fact, I invited my kindergartener to help me out and we actually had two batches out in one morning. Some simple measuring and watchful waiting was all it took to create a homemade and delicious breakfast that could last the whole week!

If you like know what’s in your granola, and like an easy recipe that you can ask your kids to help out on, read on!

Super Simple Homemade Granola

4 cups oats

1 cup walnut pieces

1 cup shredded coconut (I used sweetened)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients, then add honey, olive oil, and vanilla. Spread onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes. I suggest giving it a quick stir in the last 5 minutes or so. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, and store in an airtight container.

super simple granola recipe

This is a variation of a recipe that I found via Pinterest at Recipe Tin Eats. I like her basic framework very much and I really appreciated the ease of her format. Her approach made the prospect of homemade granola very approachable. I did have to tweak the recipe a bit for our tastes, and the cooking time had to be adjusted a bit, but I was very happy with the results!

I’m looking forward to what I hope will be a great year of simple, homemade (mostly), and tasty recipes; stay cozy!

Skincare Routine: Winter 2017

The weather has gotten a bit colder and drier recently where I live. While I love winter and truly look forward to some great snowball fights, snowshoeing, and the hot cocoa to be had afterwards, it does wreak some havoc on my newly middle-aged skin.

I have been trialing several creams and potions the last several weeks, including some old friends and some new discoveries. My experiments have led me to a somewhat simple, yet effective skin care routine (that also happens to be composed entirely of drugstore brands). Here are the players:

The Evening Routine

Evening skincare routine, Cetaphil, Simple, Aquaphor

Simple Micellar Cleansing Water

I have found that washing my face with soap at night tends to cause it to be dry and a bit tight in our current cold weather. This micellar water removes the small amount of makeup that I usually wear (see my 5 Minute Face here) and prepares my skin to accept moisturizers more readily. The addition of glycerin, niacinamide, coupled with the absence of harsh chemicals means that this is one of the few micellar waters that don’t need to be rinsed off after application.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

I was in love with the cream for so long (see that review here), I was shocked to find a product from the Cetaphil line that I liked even better! This lotion may be used on the body or face and is packed with moisture giving ingredients such as glycerin, avocado oil, and vitamin E. Even after experimenting with several fancy creams and oils recently, I find this to be the most comfortable lotion to wear. It feels as though it actually penetrates the outermost layer of skin and it leaves my face feeling very moisturized, yet not greasy (even until morning)!

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

I don’t usually use this on my face, unless the sides of my nose feel excruciatingly dry during a bout of the flu. Instead, I use it as a lip balm on really cold, dry evenings. It’s a bit greasy to wear during the day, but lanolin and panthenol help keep my lips from cracking overnight.

The Morning Routine

Day time skincare, Queen Helene, Purpose, Kiss My Face, Nivea, Clinique

Queen Helene Mint Julep Scrub

I have vacillated back and for between this scrub and other (much more expensive) competitors for years. Yet I always find myself back to this one. The packaging has changed a lot over the last decade, but the product is just as wonderful as it was back then. Made with very finely ground walnut shell and glycerin (sensing a theme?), this scrub leaves my skin soft and smooth and not dried out at all. Because my skin tends to be sensitive, I use this every other day, in the shower, and alternate with the Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash.

Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash

This is another product that I have adored for years. It is facial wash that does not dry out my skin, and best of all, it doesn’t sting my eyes! I am an absolute Neanderthal while washing my face, with water and soap everywhere; highly fragranced or stinging facial washes only make me cry. This is my holy grail facial wash.

Kiss My Face SPF 30 Face Factor

Speaking of holy grail products, here is my favorite sunscreen for the last several years. It is moisturizing but not greasy. It has a physical sunscreen, but doesn’t make my skin any paler (ghostly) than it already is. It contains ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and (you guessed it) glycerin, that help improve the texture and appearance of my skin.

What more could I ask for?

Oh, it also layers under makeup perfectly and, dare I say, acts a bit like a primer! (It’s also vegan and cruelty-free, just in case that’s important to you.)

Nivea Moisture Lip Care

Nivea has released numerous lip balms over the years. None though, have I like better than this one! It is one of my favorites (as you can see here), so much so that I generally order the 6-pack from Amazon. It works great in the summer, and I find that it layers nicely under a gloss in the winter.

Clinique Superbalm Moisturizing Gloss

Another perennial favorite (review here), this gloss is a must-have for me in the winter months. Nothing seals the moisture into my lips and prevents chapping like this gloss. I suspect that the linoleic acid and the squalene do a lot of the heavy lifting here, but I also believe the petroleum/wax base does something to keep it adhered (even after coffee) and prevent drying. Even if I am forgoing makeup for the day, I still layer on this gloss to keep my lips comfortable.

There you have it; my current evening and morning skin care routine. It’s not fancy or complicated, though it is complete chance that it ended up being entirely drugstore products. These products are what is currently keeping my skin pliable and non-flaky this winter, and I highly recommend them all.

My skin care needs usually change with the season, so stay tuned for upcoming routines. What does your skin crave in he winter?

Stay warm, and stay cozy!

Foodie Favorite: Orchard Valley Dark Chocolate Almonds

Sometimes, nothing else will do. Something with chocolate must be had, and any other snack would feel like an imitation of pleasure.

Then, my analytical side kicks in. My age and genetics require me to be a little more conscientious about what I eat. I try very hard not to be too strict, or too obsessive about it, as I find these kinds of methods seem to backfire with my rebellious brain. On the rare occasions I have tried documenting every calorie I intend to eat in the day ahead, I find myself searching for ways to alter or “cheat” on said plan even before it has been executed.

So, I have been trying to make little changes, rather than very extensive ones. I feel that they may be less noticeable to my very contrary psyche and therefore, perhaps more readily accepted. One little change I have made recently is adopting a new chocolate-craving-busting snack, the Orchard Valley Dark Chocolate Almonds.

orchard farms dark chocolate almonds

I figure I can’t really go wrong with almonds, as they have a satisfying texture and can help satiate a growling tummy. And I have never complained about a bit of added chocolate, personally. It is dark, so I didn’t expect a huge burst of sweetness, but I did find it to be smooth and it is quite capable of satisfying my cocoa cravings.

I think maybe my favorite part is that they come packaged in individual servings. I know how ridiculous that must sound, of course I could buy a bulk bag and portion them out myself into smaller containers. However, I find the prepackaged portions so much more convenient, and it doesn’t afford me the option of adding “a few” extra, just because it was a tough day.

I can simply pop a portion in my handbag if I feel I might crave something sweet later, or come home to a cup of hot tea and chocolatey almonds.

orchard farms dark chocolate almonds

(Photo Credit: Layout items curated by my son.)

Bonus: My son loves them as well, and seeing as how they are way more nutritionally sound than the candy he usually requests, I am willing to let him have them as an occasional treat!

I’ve noticed that Orchard Farms has also come out with pre-portioned bags of some varieties of trail mix. They look quite interesting as well . . .

I hope everyone is enjoying the new year! Best wishes to all; and stay cozy!

*For a link to purchase the product, visit our shop!