Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

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     Crock Pots are my favorite cooking item now that I live on my own.  I don't really enjoy making whole meals from scratch and usually end up with pasta or tuna because it's quick and I'm tired, but Crock Pots make it way easier to cook up something yummy without a lot of effort!  



     This week I made BBQ chicken and it is the best because it literally requires two ingredients.  I added a quarter of a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory & Brown Sugar BBQ sauce to the Crock Pot, added three frozen chicken breasts (lying as flatly across the bottom as they could), then poured another quarter of the bottle of BBQ sauce over the chicken.  THAT'S IT!!!  I turned it on low and left it cooking from 7pm to 10am the following day.


     After it has fully cooked it should be super easy to pull apart with a fork.  The last thing I do is take all the chicken out and shred it with two forks and separate it out to be refrigerated or frozen (since I only cook for me I usually freeze about 3/4 of it to eat later on).  When I'm ready to eat it I like to add shredded cheese, peas, and black beans, all on little street taco tortillas.  The best part is it makes so much and the chicken lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge and a really long time in the freezer.  Pinterest has a huge assortment of other super easy recipes too if you're in the mood for something else :)    



XOXO, Cierra
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6 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Cruise

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     Hi everyone!  This spring break I did something I've never done before, I went on a cruise!  We did the Carnival 4-day Mexico cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada.  I was super excited to go and relax for a few days, but wasn't really sure what to expect.  My parents had been on a cruise a few years prior and my friend I went with has been on a few as well so they gave me some tips.  I also googled and Pinterested a lot before I left.  However, even the most preparation can't make everything perfect, so here's what I wish I had known before now that I have gone!

1.  Everything you read about over packing is real.  I read so many blogs and my mom told me not to over pack and I really tried not to, yet somehow I brought probably twice as much stuff as I needed.  I only really ended up wearing a few casual outfits, like one nice dinner outfit, pajamas, and one bikini.  Everything else is just wasted space, seriously!


2. You probably won't actually get that lost.  I know for me this was a big concern because the ship seems so large and confusing, but I promise you get the hang of the basic places by the end of the first day.  Even if you do end up lost, just think of it as a nice little tour and maybe you'll find something you didn't know was there. 


3. The drink package is well worth its cost.  I was hesitant to get it, but while I may be bias as a 21 year old college student, I thought that having 15 drinks a day and not having them all already paid for was extremely convenient.  For reference, we both went through all 15 drinks each day.


4. Along with drinks, I was surprised by the food.  It's actually awesome and the selection is incredible.  While I may have eaten the tacos everyday for lunch, don't be afraid to try new things!  I had my first taste of escargot at dinner because why not, and I actually loved it!


5.  Not having phone service is not the worst thing to happen to you.  I thought I would be really upset to not have my phone working for part of the trip, but honestly it was so refreshing.  I spent more time just enjoying being with the people I was with and less time on Insta.  


6. Time goes by super fast.  Before you know it you have all these new friends and know where everything is, and it's the last day.  So make sure to get out and about, meet people, and enjoy your time!
  
XOXO, Cierra
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Spring Bar Cart

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     Hi everyone, Happy Spring!! This is one of my favorite times of the year.  In Arizona, Spring comes and goes pretty quickly, but that doesn't make it any less fun to celebrate it!  Along with Spring starting, Easter is right around the corner.  Generally, decoration wise, when someone thinks of these two things they usually think pastel colors and candy.  This is exactly what this month's bar cart features!




     This is probably the second cutest cart I've done, right behind February's cart, hopefully you think so too!  My favorite aspect is the peeps vase, and this is super easy to do.  There's actually a big shot glass in the vase holding the flowers with water and the peeps are on the outside edge of the shot glass in the actual vase so they don't get wet :)  


     I also found these cute little nests at Joann's to add a more natural look (they're doing 20% off any purchase right now!), along with a cute banner, fun sign and graphic napkins for a little sparkle.  Of course I also had to get the Easter M&Ms mix to add into the candy dish (it's definitely my favorite mix solely because of the colors).    


XOXO, Cierra

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Currently Listening To

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     So, recently I decided to give Podcasts a try.  I've heard a lot about different ones people listen to, but I never thought it was something I would like.  I decided to give it a shot since I was pretty tired of my Spotify playlists, but also don't like walking between my classes without head phones in.  Turns out, I actually love them!!  It's like listening to the funny segments on radio shows, except you can pick what you're interested in.

     I started out listening to two, now I'm up to five favorites!  I sneak them in when I'm walking and when I'm working out, they're so easy to get wrapped up in that it makes the time fly.  So without further ado, here are my favorites currently:

1. Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen: Since I don't get BravoTV in my apartment, I've been having serious withdrawals from my shows.  This podcast is perfect for this because I can keep up with each Bravo show, each week, for free! 


2. Duolingo Spanish Podcast: I finished my minor in Spanish last semester, so now I'm not taking anymore language classes.  I was so used to having them and being able to practice, this podcast helps to replace that in hopes that I won't lose all the things I learned.  It tells stories and news articles in Spanish, with the option to follow along in English.


3. Anna Farris is Unqualified: I have always loved Anna Farris, I mean House Bunny and Mom are hilarious.  There's not really a theme to this podcast but she has other celebrities on and just discusses whatever, in the funniest way possible of course. 


4. Straight up with Stassi: Another one I found simply because of who it's about, Stassi was on Vanderpump Rules and always was one of my favs.  She's sassy and has no issues letting people know her opinion on the weekly events.


5. Betch Slapped: This one is fun for keeping up on trends and pop-culture, while simultaneously judging everything.  It's very sassy and not censored, but always a good laugh.


Any podcasts you're loving right now, or not your thing?
XOXO, Cierra
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Currently Reading

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     Ever since I was little I've always enjoyed reading, I read the whole Twilight and Hunger Games series in a few days in middle school, but being in college has kept me super busy and I let my reading take a back burner.  This year I've taken a lot more time to catch up on books I've wanted to read.  

     I enjoy most genres; biographies, mystery, self-help, fiction, comedies, etc.  But if I don't like a book while I'm reading it, it takes forever for me to finish it (I never stop midway through).  Some of the one's I've read so far I didn't like to start, but then I got super into them, and others I finished in a day.  So I'm going to stick with those types of categories and list them out that way.



Books I Read in One Day
  • Dirty Rush by Taylor Bell: My first read of the year!  This book, along with the following two, were suggested to me by a friend.  Turns out she know what she was talking about because this book was hilarious.  If you know about, or have partaken in, Greek life you'll especially enjoy it, but no it's not always like Bell depicts it!    
  • White Girl Problems by Babe Walker: This book was also hilarious and super relatable as a young woman.  Babe struggles through what everyone does, with just a lot more money and designer clothes.  
  • Psychos by Babe Walker: This is the sequel to White Girl Problems (eep there's a third, too!) and honestly once you read the first one you won't be able to stop so you should probably buy them all at once.  I'm working on the third as I type this.

Books I Liked but Took Longer to Read
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This book is set in Europe at the start of WWII and focuses on a young girl.  I have always been really fascinated with this time period and will pick up basically any book set in it.  This book took me over a year to get into just because there is a lot of background info given to set up the plot, but once I got past that I really loved this book and was sad to finish it.  It definitely had a lot of sad parts, but there are also funny and cheerful parts.  
  • Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: My mom recommended this book to me after she read it, and it's been made into a movie, so I gave it a shot.  This also took me a few days to get into, but again after that it was a really enjoyable read.  The antics of this family are so funny and they just keep going throughout the whole book.  
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed: I picked this book up after I saw the movie previews and it's not a typical book I would read just since it's very outdoorsy.  However, it also has other aspects of personal growth, self-empowerment, and comedy.  It was an easy read and actually made me really really interested the PCT hike.  
Books I'm Reading Next

What are you currently reading?? I always love new suggestions :)
XOXO, Cierra     
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Happy National Margarita Day!

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     It has come to my attention that National Margarita Day is February 22nd (it's actually a real thing).  While I have never celebrated this holiday before, I'm pretty sure it'll soon be one of my favorites.  Flashback to awhile ago when I thought I hated tequila, margaritas, and everything closely related any of that (so sad, I know).  Little did I know that they would soon be my go-to drink, right behind vodka sodas.  To celebrate National Margarita Day, I put together a list of my fav recipes I've tried so you can whip them up & celebrate too!  Add some chips and dip in cute bowls like my margarita glass plates, fun margarita glasses, and drink umbrellas to create your own little fiesta!



  •  My absolute fav recipe is the Black Grape Marg I posted awhile back.  It is so refreshing, and even a little healthy!

  • Next, Prickly Pear Margs are a staple in the Southwest, they're sweet and tangy.  You'll need prickly pear syrup to make them, but that's what makes them so much more unique since that's not a common flavor in drinks!

  • Mangoritas, do I really need to add anything to this? They're like a vacation in a glass.

  •  Rodeo-Rita.  You probably have no idea what this is an maybe you think it even sounds a little tacky, fine you can think that but hear me out.  This marg is made with Pendleton Whisky instead of tequila, and while that does sound odd, IT IS SO GOOD.  I discovered this when I was in Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo and it was all I drank the rest of the weekend.

  • Last, strawberry-peach frozen margaritas.  I'm so excited to make these when it warms up and sip them by the pool.  They taste like a tequila smoothie, in the best way possible, and since they don't use a mix they're even a little healthy.
How will you be celebrating??
XOXO, Cierra
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Carry-On Must Haves

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     Recently I've been travelling more than I normally do during the semester for veterinary school interviews!  In January it was Columbus, Ohio and this weekend it's Ewing, Virginia!  It's been super exciting, but having to pack and do my school stuff at the same time has been a little stressful.  What has been the most helpful is leaving my carry-on tote packed with the essentials so I don't have to worry about forgetting anything in that realm.  Basically every trip I take, I bring the same things to make the flight easy breezy.  



     I usually only travel with a tote (this Kate Spade Cameron Street tote is the perfect size!!) and a small roller bag, so the tote is always loaded to the brim.  First and foremost, I bring lots of snacks like peanut butter crackers and Bel-Vita bars.  These are perfect for traveling because they're small and non-perishable, but still keep you full if you can't grab real food without being super unhealthy.     Another must-have is a notebook and pen because you really never know when you might need to jot something down or leave a note.  This set is small and so cute to keep in your purse, I got a different color combo and love them!  You can't forget the everyday things like sunglasses, your wallet, a book, a water bottle, and your charger too.

 
     I also always carry Evian mist, Visine eye drops, Kleenex, Tisserand's Energy essential oil (incredible for a quick pick me up), and a mini Vaseline tub.  Evian mist prevents your face from the normal dryness that occurs when you're flying, Visine refreshes dry and tired eyes, and Vaseline is the only thing that keeps my lips from being super chapped.  


     Lastly, my go-to lipstick, lotion, a nail file, and hand sanitizer also make it into the bag.  I make sure to keep all the toiletry type items in a little separate bag in case there's any spills my book and wallet won't be ruined.     

Any fun trips coming up for you??
XOXO, Cierra
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Masks for Every Occasion

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     With the weather warming up, my skin has been all over the place adjusting from the dryness of winter and desperately in need of some attention.  I found this "Meet Your Mask" kit of 5 different masks from Peter Thomas Roth at Sephora and have been testing them all out to give you guys some feedback!  In my last skin-related post I focused on my day-to-day routine and moisturizers if you're more interested in that.  With that being said; here's how the set worked out!  I started out trying each one for ten minutes, but as I realized which ones worked better for me I tended to grab them more often so I have more to say about those ones.  



     My favorite two in the set were the Cucumber Gel Mask Extreme De-Tox Hydrator and the Irish Moor Mud Purifying Black Mask, for two very different reasons.  The green one is awesome on dry skin!  I used it whenever my skin felt really tight or I had been out in the sun a lot.  It is made with cucumber and aloe so it's extremely hydrating, there's no strong scent, and it makes your skin feel smooth after with less redness.  The only downside was I expected it to go on green and it actually goes on clear, which is less exciting.  The black one is worked wonders on any zits I had pop up!  A few times I used it I left it on for ten minutes as any other mask and it made my skin feel really clean.  Other times I used it as a spot treatment over night directly on the pimple and by the next morning it was almost gone!!  This is also the only one that goes on not clear so it really makes you feel like you're doing a mask.  



      The others I tried were still really good, just if I were to buy full size ones it would be of those two.  The Blue Marine Algae Intense Hydrating Mask is also great for dry skin, I would have listed this one as equal to the green one except I gave it to my mom to use.  It also goes on clear, doesn't have a scent, and made my skin feel very smooth after.  

     The Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask was also nice.  I didn't notice a huge different in my skin, but it still was refreshing.  It does have a heavy rose scent however, and is a little thicker.  

     The 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask was what I was most excited about, but it did not turn out to be as great as I had hoped.  It goes on very thickly, with a little gold shine to it.  It is not scented, but it is sticky and stayed sticky the whole time it was on.  My face felt nice after, but not any more so than any other mask I've done.  

    The Pumpkin Enzyme Enzymatic Dermal Resurfacer Mask is the only mask I didn't test.  This was because it contains alpha hydroxy acid which increases sun sensitivity a lot.  Since my normal face wash and toner already increases my sun sensitivity and I'm outside everyday I didn't want to add to it.  This mask would be ideal if you have a very basic skin care routine and not sensitive skin.  Don't forget to wear sunscreen 24/7 for a few weeks after though!  



     Overall, this set is awesome regardless of your skin type.  None of the masks made me break-out and even though I liked some better than others, I'll definitely get use out of all of them!


What's your fav mask??
XOXO, Cierra      
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February Bar Cart

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     I got a little over excited and changed up the bar cart early this month because I just couldn't wait for all the cute things I had saved for this one!  It's Valentine's Day themed with all the pink and red one little cart can handle.  



      I snagged some awesome finds at Target's dollar section this week like the wine bag, hand towels and heart plate, but I linked similar options.  The rest I've picked up over the past year.  





     I also added these fabulous three see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil little flying pigs from Fry's Food Store that may stick around even after this month.  



     The last thing I added was a new design to our pantry door.  It was painted with chalkboard paint when I moved in and I love using it for decor!  Pinterest has the cutest chalk art ideas, some harder than others, but this one was super simple.  


     If you're looking for some additions to your decor this month here's some similar wine glasses, garland, vases, stirrers, straws, wine stoppers, and napkins!!  

XOXO, Cierra

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Christmas Cookie Recap

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     It always seems like the Holidays fly by, here we are already halfway through January!  I enjoyed the time off with my family and did lots of baking.  Since I was off the grid for the majority of the time I thought I'd use this time to do a little recap of the cookies I made so you don't miss out on any of the yumminess. 
  
     This was the first year EVER that I've made the majority of the Holiday cookies on my own since my mom had to work during the days before Christmas.  When I say "Holiday cookies", I use the term very loosely because these can honestly be made for any occasion and are so dang easy to do!  Hence why this post was necessary even if the baking season seems to be over.  



     So to start, there are six types of desserts I'm going to cover and link the recipes  They are all simple enough to be made in a few hours or less and would make an amazing addition to any dinner or event.  One of them is also healthy, yes you heard that right, so get your grocery list out and keep reading!   

     1. Magic Bars- My family has these every Christmas since as far back as I can remember and they are so good.  You can easily modify them to have nuts, butterscotch, or just stick with the basics.  These are a great go-to if you need some chocolate in your life.  

     2. Cranberry Cheesecake Bars- Making these this year was a little odd for me considering I've gone years thinking they were made with raspberry jelly, not cranberry sauce...But even after that revelation they are still my favorite dessert.  The oat crust and cheesecake layer are AMAZING, plus the cranberry could be swapped for another fruit (raspberry for real now??) to fit any time of year.  

     3. Bourbon Caramel Cheesecake Bites- I can't vouch for the flavor of these too much since I really don't like caramel, but I can say that the leftover cheesecake part I scooped out of the bowl was absolutely delicious.  Using fresh vanilla bean was intimidating at first, but actually way easier than I expected, and you can definitely taste it in the batter.  

     4. Chocolate Dipped Pretzels- If you don't make anything else on this whole list, make these.  They take less than an hour, if that, and can be changed up for any occasion.  I like to use sprinkles, crushed nuts, and some melted white & dark chocolate drizzled with a spoon to decorate the Christmas ones, but think white chocolate with pink sprinkles for Valentine's Day too!  (Tip: use this slow cooker idea to make it super easy to keep the chocolate warm!)
  
     5. Sugar Cookies- These are classic and there's so many recipes to make them.  I use the basic one from The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, along with their powdered sugar icing recipe.  The most fun part of these for me is the cookie cutters, my family's traditional shapes include a burro, a cowboy hat, chili peppers, and a cowboy.  If you need some to start your own shape tradition check out this little star tree you can make from stacking different sized star cutouts!


  
     6. Avocado Key Lime Pie Bites (aka "Grinch Poop")- This is the one you've been waiting for I'm sure, the healthy one with only about 100 calories in each tart!  These little green tarts are made with actual avocados, but you would never know it.  They are sweet, yet refreshing, making them perfect for the Holidays or the middle of summer.  I really can't think of a reason not to make them, besides the fact I eat four at a time.  



XOXO, Cierra
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Friday Favorites: Most Recent Finds

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     This month has been super busy for me with finals, the end of the semester, and the holidays coming!  On the bright side, my finals are over now and during the times I was procrastinating on studying I found some super cute things I wanted to share!  


     To start, this cleansing scrubber is incredible!  It exfoliates your skin but is so gentle.  I usually wet it with warm water, squeeze my face wash onto it, and massage my face with it for about 3 minutes.  Afterwards my face feels so soft and I haven't had any irritation from it!  Plus, its pink and doesn't take up much space (great stocking stuffer!).



     My next new favorite purchase are these mules from Missguided.  Not only are they pink velvet, but they're also 57% off!!!  Such a steal and so in right now.  I ordered a 7 and normally wear a 6.5-7.  They feel a little loose, but I'm still glad I went with them rather than a 6.5.  They also came really quickly.  Even if they don't have your size in these there's so many other cute options in their sale section.



     Next, these candles are must haves.  The Frosted Cranberry is so festive and fruity, I have it lit on my bar cart.  I'm saving the Golden Peach Sparkle for summer because it smells just like a smoothie, yum!  It doesn't seem to be online but since my store had it, I would check yours before they're all gone!  Last but not least, Mahogany Teakwood is my all time favorite and this new patterned jar looks so sophisticated.  To top it off, right now almost all the Bath & Body Works 3-wick candles are $12.95 and they have $10 off a $30 purchase with the code LETITSNOW.  Now is definitely the time to stock up and maybe grab a few as gifts!  



     Now that the semesters over and I have more time to read for fun again, I also picked up this book because the title drew me in instantly.  Extremely Pale Rosé: A Very French Adventure is about a couple's travels through France tasting different Rosés in search of the best one.  Basically they're living the dream and who can resist following along pretending to be them, especially for only $1.99.

     Lastly, this Kate Spade hold the phone cross body is perfect for everything.  It holds your phone and two cards, so kind of like those phone wallet cases except cuter!  My iPhone 6s fits in it with a case and popsocket.  I have used it for causal days of running errands, and for my winter formal.  It comes in other colors but the pink and black seemed the most versatile to me for dressing up or dressing down.  It's sold out right now, but this one is super similar in a horizontal style.  

  
      As your picking up gifts for friends and family, don't forget to treat yourself too!  What're you looking forward to getting yourself?
XOXO, Cierra 

       
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