A Polished Palate

Living a tasteful life

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

L'Oreal PURE-SUGAR Smooth & Glow Face Scrub & Hair Oil Treatment: A Review

I wanted to pop in and share a quick review with you of two products that I recently tried.

I love a good face scrub. I like the ease of quickly scrubbing your face, washing it off and then you're done. It seems much easier than walking around the house like a mummy with a face mask that has to stay in place for 15 minutes. That's not to say that I don't do that from time to time. But using a scrub serves as a quick fix and leaves my skin feeling refreshed. I recently tried the L'Oreal PURE-SUGAR Smooth & Glow Face Scrub and absolutely love it. 
The scrub is a naturally derived blend of 3 pure sugars paired with finely ground Acai, nutrient-rich Grapeseed and Monoi Oils. It doesn't feel harsh on your face like some scrubs do. It gently exfoliates without leaving you with irritated skin which is a win in my book. I dampened my face and hands before applying to my face and it felt like soft sand. The best part is the way my skin felt when after I washed it off. My face felt like it had been moisturized and was silky smooth but not greasy. The scrub also works well for exfoliating your lips. The directions say to use it three times a week in order to begin seeing that healthy glow. I'm only two days in so far and I definitely plan to continue to incorporate it in my beauty routine. And on another good note, it's a skin care product that won't break the bank!

I recently gave this hair oil treatment a try as well. My hair is color treated and easily drys out, especially the ends. In order to keep that freshly highlighted blonde look, I use a purple shampoo twice a week. This shampoo is great for removing brassy undertones but it doesn't leave my hair feeling nourished. I do my best to keep in well conditioned and use heat protectant products, but sometimes it just needs a little something more. I decided to give this oil treatment a try and was pleasantly surprised. Because my hair is fine and thin, I wouldn't use a product like this on my clean, dry hair. I was afraid if I used it on my clean hair it may look oily. Instead I ran it through the ends of my wet hair before I washed it. The ends of my hair seemed to not be so brittle and dry after the treatment. I will have to use it a few more times before I decide whether or not it's something I would add into my regular hair product rotation but I'm glad I gave it a try. It also smells really nice. It reminds me of the smell of products you would find in the shower at a resort in the tropics.  This product also comes at a nice price point. 
* These products were sent to me for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

We're Having A... + 16 Week Pregnancy Update

We can't wait to welcome baby boy Smith in June! I had a strong gut feeling that it was a boy, and I guess mother's intuition was right! I'm excited to finally be able to start buying clothes and planning the nursery. The  funny part about this is, we've actually had the gender results in an envelope for weeks now. At first we thought we wanted to do some sort of gender reveal party but then decided against it. It really wasn't bothering me that I had the results but wasn't looking at them. Maybe it was because we've been so busy that I haven't thought about it or maybe it's because deep down I felt like I already knew what they said. My friends were in disbelief that we had enough self control to not open the envelope. Well, all that flew out of the window last week when Charleston got hit with a historical snow storm.  Whit and I were stuck indoors for far too long and the envelope started to linger in the back of my mind, so we decided to go for it! Hence the snow announcement.  
Hello second trimester! I'm currently 16 weeks as of yesterday and I'm starting to see more significant changes. Here's a little bit about what's currently going on.

How far along? 16 weeks and 1 day

Baby’s size: According to the Baby Center app, he is the size of an avocado. 

Weight gain: 3 lbs as of my last visit, will get an update tomorrow. Update- total of 4.4 lbs.

Energy: As I mentioned in my last post, my energy came back about a month ago which was so nice. I'm trying to enjoy this time because I've been told it all goes away again in the third trimester.

Appetite: During my first trimester I couldn’t stand the thought of most foods, especially meat and I didn’t have much appetite. That soon went away, but as of lately I'm beginning to feel hungry way more often, especially in the mornings. Breakfast is currently my favorite meal of the day!

Food Cravings: All I can seem to think about lately is breakfast food. This pregnancy is leaving me craving some of my childhood favorites, like toaster strudels, pop-tarts, cereal, thick bagels with cream cheese. Although I've only given into the bagel and cereal, I have plans to add some things to my grocery list this weekend. :/ And as for my love of Cheese It's I mentioned in my last post, that ship has sailed thanks to a stomach bug last weekend. Moving on...

Things I Miss: Runny eggs, rare beef and sushi. Those three things are bugging me the most. I use to eat a runny egg for breakfast almost every morning, so I've had to adjust. And as for meat, if it's well done, I don't want it. As for the sushi, I'm trying to trick myself by ordering the cooked rolls but let's face it, it's just not the same.

Shortness of breath: This has come as a bit of a surprise to me. I've always been good about maintaining a fairly stable gym routine, inclusive of cardio weights and total body training. This left me confused at how I could possibly be short of breath just by walking up the stairs, but it's happening and it's so strange.

Workouts: I'm doing my best to spend a minimum of three days a week in the gym for an hour at a time. I'm still taking a Red Zone class once a week, with modifications of course. Most of my time has been spent on the treadmill and honestly I'm started to get bored with it. I'm considering signing up for a few months of Barre Evolution which I've always been a fan of. I've heard it's a good option for women who are expecting, so we will see.

Sleep: Thankfully I haven't had trouble sleeping, but crazy dreams started this week. I mean like the strangest things. 

Movement: We saw lots of this during my last sonogram, but I'm patiently waiting on the actual feeling. I've read that many times women who are carrying their first child mistake movement and flutters for gas bubbles or hunger pangs. I've been trying to really concentrate lately to see if I can feel anything but now I think it's in my head. So I will patiently wait. 

Wardrobe: I haven't started purchases maternity clothes yet, but I am starting to see a small little bump through my clothes, especially workout tops. My jeans still fit, but are more comfortable using the hair tie trick...thank goodness for that!

Don't mind the horrible pictures, but this is all I had to share. I need to work on this going forward.

In other news, I received my first "baby boy" gift from my girlfriend and I'm obsessed. I've been wanting to pick up a pair of these sweet little Freshly Picked Moccasins. Can't wait to see them on his tiny feet!

Previous Updates: Pregnancy Announcement 

Friday, January 5, 2018

Turkey, Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Skillet

For those of you that are interested in this recipe I put on my Instagram stories last night, here you are! A friend of mine shared this recipe with me a few years ago and I keep coming back to it. It's simple, quick and filling. I tweaked the original recipe to best suite our tastes and you can too. The original recipe was meatless but I knew if I wanted my husband to eat it, there had to be meat. I added ground turkey but I think ground beef or chicken would be just as good. 

Also, the first time I made this, I roasted my own butternut squash and diced it up, but honestly it took forever and was a pain. This time I took the easy route and bought the pre-chopped squash and saved so much time and energy. If butternut squash isn't your thing, sweet potatoes would be delicious too. 
A few other things to note, I was out of onions so I had to use onion powder — an easy quick fix (especially if you don't want to chop onions). I could go either way when it comes to topping this with tortilla strips, but it does add a nice crunch. And lastly if you want to kick up the heat a notch, add a dice jalapeno. I'm not a fan of super spicy things so I pass on this.
This recipe is packed full of protein and filling. It's the perfect meal to make on a cold winter day.  I love to see when people make the recipes I share, so send me a photo or tag me in your posts if you decide to make it. :) 


Turkey, Butternut Squash and Black Bean Enchilada Skillet
1 pound of ground turkey
32 ounces of pounds of cubed butternut squash
1 15oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
2 10 oz cans of red enchilada sauce
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 small diced onion (onion powder will work if you don’t have onions on hand)
1 cup of shredded of fiesta blend shredded cheese
Cilantro for topping (chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.     Heat olive oil on medium in a large oven safe skillet and brown the ground turkey.
2.     Transfer cooked turkey into a separate bowl and set aside.
3.     In the same pan, the turkey was cooked in, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add minced onions and garlic, cooking 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant.
4.     Add cubed butternut squash, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cook the butternut squash about 12 minutes or until slightly tender. (You want it to still have a slight crunch)
5.     Gently mix the black beans and enchilada sauce in with the butternut squash and add the ground turkey back in.
6.     Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 2 minutes.
7.     Top with shredded cheese and place in the oven on broil until cheese starts to brown slightly.
8.     Remove from oven and garnish with chopped cilantro and tortilla strips.
9.     Extra toppings if you have on hand: hot sauce and sour cream.
Recipe adapted from: The Ambitious Kitchen


Monday, January 1, 2018

Coming Soon!

Happy New Year! And what an exciting one it's going to be for us! Whit and I are thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming Baby Smith in June 2018!
It has been incredibly hard keeping this secret the past two months. With the holidays and all of the social activities, hiding this has taken a whole lot of effort and I'm so glad we are finally sharing the news! 

Hello second trimester! 

As of today, I'm now 14 weeks and 6 days along, with 177 days left to go.  Our due date is June 27th. I've been pretty fortunate throughout this whole process so far, regarding symptoms. The first trimester I felt a little icky but nothing too serious. I was never sick, I just had no interest food and only wanted cold things like cereal, which is totally unlike me. I also couldn't stand the thought of coffee. I was afraid my love for a good cup of joe would never return. But I'm happy to say my appetite is back and I am enjoying a cup of half calf in the mornings. I haven't really had any "cravings" yet. Although I'm embarrassed to admit the amount of extra toasty Cheez-Its I've consumed in the past few weeks. On second thought, maybe my love for those has heightened just a bit. 

I didn't realize the lack of energy I had until I all of the sudden started feeling like myself again at around 10 weeks. I was so thankful to because we had a lot going on leading up to the holidays. I've been trying to keep with my gym routine since the beginning, with slight modifications of course. I haven't been going as much as I normally do but the holidays have had a lot to do with that. I plan on getting back into my normal routine this month and I'm really looking forward to it. 

We are incredibly thankful for this blessing and are looking forward to this new journey ahead. I’ll be sharing more over the next coming weeks!


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Italy Recap: Tuscany

I’m back with another recap of our trip to Italy that we went on back in October and this time it's all about Tuscany! I’m going to jump right in where I left off, which was in Pompeii. You can find part one here and part two here if you need to catch up!
We left Pompeii and headed to the train station to make our way to Florence where we picked up our rental car. From there we had about a two-hour drive to Tuscany. Once we got to Tuscany, I honestly wasn’t sure how I would ever get back in the car again. The roads were narrow and winding, rarely giving way to a straight path. It took my stomach some getting used to.  It was dark when we arrived at our hotel and we were hungry, so we immediately checked in and got ready for dinner. We stayed at Castella di Spaltenna, an incredible upscale, 5-start, resort hotel in a castle, located in the country side with country-chic rooms and a welcoming staff. I was most excited about their Michelin star restaurant, Il Pievano. We had reservations in this quiet, fine dining, restaurant filled with old world, Tuscan charm. The cuisine, inspired by both Tuscany and Campania was incredible. Presented as a work of art, the food was unexpected but not disappointing. For example, this is a picture of their version of tomato soup five ways. Each version tasted just like the soup, yet somehow offering complex layers of flavor that were different with each sample. 
 A platter of treats, all of which were delicious, although I can't recall exactly what each item was.
 A warm box of assorted breads.
 Here's a few of some of the other dishes that made their way to our table.
The presentation of everything was just beautiful! I can’t recall what some of these dishes were, nor am I entirely sure, but nonetheless they were all delicious. This was my first experience dining at a Michelin start restaurant and it truly was an amazing and unforgettable dinner.

The feeling I had the next morning when I got out of bed and opened our wood pane windows was once I will never forget. Remember we arrived at night so we weren’t able to see the grounds. I opened the windows to the most breathtaking and calming view of the country side. The fog had rolled past and beautiful green and yellow vineyards were left in the distance. I couldn’t wait to explore the grounds.
There was nothing that the complimentary breakfast buffet lacked. From sweet to savory food to and unlimited cappuccinos and complimentary prosecco, I looked forward to breakfast every morning. After a filling breakfast, we made our way to the spa and took full advantage of all the amenities before we set out for the day.

Our first stop was Castello di Brolio, a rural castle, palace and gardens located in the municipality of Gaiole in Chianti. Since 1141, the Ricasoli family has been making wines from the vineyards surrounding their estate, Brolio Castle, making it the world's oldest winemaking operation under continuous family control. You can buy a ticket for the “historical guided tour” or the classic tour which is a visit to the gardens and museum. We chose the latter. Included in the ticket is a wine tasting at the Ricasoli wine shop

After our tour, we stopped in the wine shop for our tasting and decided to have lunch at a small Agribar Brolio, a small cafe just across the street. We each shared one of the simplest sandwiches comprised of nothing but meat and cheese but it was so good. 
We started making our way back to home base after lunch. The distance of our multiple points of interest weren't too far from each other, but the winding roads added much more time to our travels. We hadn’t yet explored the area outside of our hotel which was quaint and lined with little mom and pop shops and restaurants. It was also time for another snack break. We couldn’t resist sampling some of the pasta highlighted on a chalkboard outside of one of the restaurants. It was just what we needed to hold us over until our next meal.
We had scoped out the scene that afternoon and knew exactly where we wanted to go back for dinner. Wanting to stay nearby, we headed back to the little area just outside of our hotel to a restaurant that soon became our favorite place. It was small and cozy and the food was amazing. We actually ate there twice and probably would have gone more if we had stayed longer. Whit is now obsessed with this dessert and frequently recreates it at home.
Another delicious breakfast with a breathtaking view the next morning. If only every morning started like this.

We set out for a day on the road with our first stop at a local vineyard. This particular vineyard was owned by the hotel we were staying which was just down the road. The hotel kindly arranged our complimentary tasting and tour for us. This was a smaller vineyard with great wine and friendly staff.
Our road trip wasn’t without purpose, we were headed to Vignamaggio for a cooking class. One of my favorite parts about the day was stopping at a random town to grab a drink and snack on the way. There was a language barrier for sure, but we were able to communicate meat, cheese and wine….all the important food groups. 
We arrived at Vignamaggio and were greeted by the chef and sous chef, and introduced to two others that were joining our class. We all put on our aprons and headed to the kitchen. Everyone was each assigned a different dish to prepare, really making it a joint effort. We had a wonderful experience, leaving me feeling confident that I could prepare these dishes at home. Here's a look at was was on the menu...

Melanzane Alla Parmigiana (Eggplant Parmesan) 
Spinach Gnocchi 
Pollo Alla Cacciatora -Chicken with tomatoes and onions stewed in wine
Cantucci De Prato (Dessert) I wasn't a big fan of this.
Tiramisu- I was partially responsible for this dish and it turned out great if I do say so myself.
Making the gnocchi.
While the Chef plated our food, we had time to explore the grounds of the breathtaking estate where the villa was located.

Thank you, Vignamaggio for a wonderful experience! I highly recommend book a class with them if you enjoy cooking. 

We had originally planned to “vineyard hop” on our final day in Tuscany, but after mapping things out we soon realized that the vineyards weren’t as close to each other as we had hoped. We decided to visit the top vineyard on our list and then make our way to Siena. 

We had the best experience at Castello Banfi! This seven thousand acre wine estate is the largest in Tuscany. As we were just beginning our tasting, and were kindly welcomed by a sweet lady who happened to be the owner. She chatted with us for a bit about where we were from and what made us to choose Italy and we told her why we were visiting. She welcomed us with open arms, gave us a private tour of their balsamic distillery, set us up with a beautiful charcuterie spread for lunch and gifted us with a bottle of champagne to celebrate. 
 I'm pretty sure I could live off of meat, cheese, bread and wine.
 These are the barrels the balsamic is made in.
And this was hands down, the best balsamic I've ever had. The owner brought it out specially for us to have with lunch.
The hospitality at Castello Banfi was contagious. We left feeling satisfied and happy that of all the wineries we could have visited, we chose that particular one.

Siena was a car ride away. We immediately treated ourselves with a huge cone of gelato the minute we arrived. I’m pretty sure I indulged in this at least once a day while we were there and it was so worth it.
 How beautiful is the Siena Cathedral?!
We briefly scoped out the city but honestly decided we really just wanted to go back to our cozy little town where we were staying at have one last dinner at our now favorite spot.

We had the veggie platter to star.
 The most amazing ravioli. 
 And cheesy, flavorful pizza with crispy crust.
 And Whit's new found favorite dessert!
Dinner was nothing short of amazing. What I wouldn't do for more of their pizza and pasta. Man, writing this recap really has me longing to go back. 

The most popular questions we've gotten since we've returned from our trip have been "Which was your favorite place?" and "What did you enjoy most?" I'll have to admit that I think Tuscany was my favorite. Although I thoroughly enjoyed Capri and Positano, there was just something about Tuscany that stole my heart. Maybe it was the peaceful countryside and the breathtaking views as far as the eye could see. It was a great place to get away and relax. But if you're looking for hustle and bustle, this may not be the place for you. It's definitely a great place to unwind and enjoy vacation at a slower pace. I don't know that I would stay longer than four days, but I would definitely visit again!

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