March 2015 - Simply Samantha

Aura Cacia

9:42 AM

I discovered Aura Cacia on one of our trips to Whole Foods. I was looking for some type of lavender essential oil product that wasn't going to hurt my wallet. I saw their Lavender Oil Mist and thought it would be perfect for our pup Bruno.

Little did I know but I had just found one of my favorite essential oil brands. I know everyone has their preference and brand they like when it comes to essential oils but for this poor newlywed, Aura Cacia is perfect! It works great and is easy on the wallet.

If you are curious we use the lavender oil mist to help calm Bruno down when he is a little to rambunctious. 
It also helps keep the fleas off of him.

Aura Cacia Review
Aura Cacia was nice enough to send me some of their sweet smelling body products.
They know this Florida girl well and sent me the Patchouli/Sweet Orange smelling ones!
 I love them. 
The body cream is great for those days when your skin is dry and needs a little refreshment. The Sweet Orange essential oils makes you skin feel great and smell like you are sitting in an orange grove.
Aura Caia Review
The body polish is a great addition to your shower routine. My skin always feels so soft and smooth after I use the polish. It is also very gentle so it is great for somewhat sensitive skin like mine :)
Aura Cacia Review
I haven't gotten a chance to take a bath with the foam bath yet but I am all for a nice warm bath.

If you are looking for some great essential oil products that work well and don't cost much, I HIGHLY recommend Aura Cacia! I can't wait to use more of their products in the future!

*Disclosure* Aura Cacia sent me these products in exchange for a review. All opinions are 100% my own.


Homemade Swiffer Wet Jet Solution

8:00 AM

Homemade Swiffer Wet-Jet Solution

See this cute little pup. He stood in front of my camera as if to say..
"I'm ready for my close up mom!"

Well, this cute little pup likes to play in the sand and dirt in our small and quaint backyard. He could spend all day outside if we let him. The only thing I hate about leaving him outside for long period of time is that he brings the outside in with him. He also is a messy drinker so he tends to leave water puddles all over the tile floor in our kitchen/dinning/ laundry room.

You can only do the towel shuffle so much before you have to mop. And I hate lugging the mop out and using non-natural cleaners on my floor.
The other day I decided to fix that problem by lugging out our old Swiffer Wet-Jet from the shed, put in some new batteries, and make my own Swiffer Wet Jet Solution.

HomeMade Swiffer Wet-Jet Solution

After searching pinterest for a little while. I found a way to get the cap off the swiffer wet-jet bottle.
Those swiffer people think they can keep us from refilling out bottles!

Nothing a little hot water and Macgyvering can't fix.
Click here to see the post I used to help get the cap off.
Here is the ingredients I used to make my solution:

2 cups of distilled white vinegar
2 cups of warm water

I also purchased some swiffer reusable pads off of amazon. They worked great and pick up dirt really well.

Swiffer Wet-Jet refil

Do you make your own cleaners?
 I've started just using water and vinegar as a multi-surface cleaner and it works wonders! 

gluten free

Homemade Taco Seasoning

9:31 AM

Did you grow up with a mom that said...

"if you can make it, don't buy it"
I sure did.
This was my mom's motto especially when it came to seasonings and mixes.
I quickly learned from my mom how to combine lot's of different spices to make one great tasting seasoning.
Now because of her, I know how to make my own ranch seasoning, Italian seasoning, fajita seasoning, and my favorite, taco seasoning.

I love throwing this mix over some turkey or zucchini tacos. I even put it in my Mexican rice I make as a side for tacos and fajitas that is a big crowd pleaser.

HomeMade Taco Seasoning


1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.   
Homemade Taco Seasoning

Do YOU have recipe's your mom brought you up on??
 I have quiet a few :) 

Allergy Free and Vegan Recipes

Butternut Squash Risotto

11:07 AM

It seems like forever since I have posted a recipe.
And the lame excuse I have for you guys is that for the past couple of weeks by the time I was getting home from work it was dark out and I didn't have any natural light for taking pictures of my dishes. BUT thanks to Daylight Savings Time, I now have more time to cook and take pictures of my creation because the sun is out longer :)

Told you it was a lame excuse.
ButterNut Squash Risotto ::Gluten Free::

I absolutely fell in love with the Butternut Risotto at Raglan Road a couple weeks ago so it was only fitting that I try to recreate it myself. It definitely wasn't the same but it sure was still pretty tasty for this amateur chef.

ButterNut Squash Risotto

2 cups butternut squash, cubed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 cup arborio rice
5-6 cups vegetable broth
⅓ cup dry white wine (optional)
1 can small white beans or 1.5 cups cooked beans
sea salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional)

I did not use white wine and as I was cooking I realized I forgot the shallot. 
I think the shallot would have given it much more flavor.

Pour a few inches of water into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add cubed butternut squash, cover and steam until tender. Drain and mash using a fork or potato masher.

    Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil in a large skillet. Over medium-high heat sauté shallot until fragrant. Add rice and sauté (continuously stirring!) for an additional 5 minutes or until the shallot starts to lightly brown.

      If using wine, add and stir until evaporated. Lower heat and add the broth one cup at a time, stirring occasionally until liquid is absorbed by the rice. Add mashed butternut squash and white beans with the remainder of the broth. Cook until rice is tender and risotto is creamy. Season with sea salt and pepper. If using cheese, stir in before serving. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy!


      Friday Favorites

      9:15 AM

      GroopDealz(recently renamed Eleventh Avenue):
      I personlly want to thank Samantha from "The Samantha Show" for introducing me to this site. I am now fully addicted.

      Side Note: I swear Samantha's have this hidden connection that makes us all relatable to each other. There are very few Samantha's that I've met that I haven't connected with in some way ;)Samanatha's rule!

       I've been looking for a site for a while now that offers great styles for REALLY decent prices and GroopDealz (Eleventh Avenue) is it. I just ordered 3 shirts from there for under $35. That to me is a steal! Now I am just crossing my fingers that they fit well and I got the right size. I always second guess my size when ordering online. They have more then just clothes though. Check them out!:

      Wow Baking Company:
      I saw these at target the other day and I was super intrigued. I'm always looking out for new and exciting Gluten Free products. I was not disappointed. They are the moistest GF cookies I have ever had! I might have to make a trip back to Target to get some more. My only complaint is that they are so good they are dangerous to my weight and my home lol I find myself just "grabbing one" at least once a day.
      Wow Baking Company Gluten Free

      My Pup:
      I feel like he will always be my favorite. He is becoming more vocal with us. Which is good because now he knows how to tell us he needs to go outside but it also means he will tell us (and complain) when he puts his toy under the couch and its to far for him to reach. I put this up on my instagram the other night but I had to share it with you guys if you didn't get to see it.

      Video Mar 10, 9 47 21 from Samantha on Vimeo.

      Happy Weekend Friends!


      Look at my Garden Grow

      10:18 AM

      Simply Samantha Organic Garden

      This past weekend was the first weekend in a month that I haven't had anything planned for the entire weekend and I'm not complaining. It was nice knowing I had nowhere to go, nowhere to be, and nothing to do besides some house things.
      One of those "house things' was planting my garden for a mid summer harvest. This will be my third try....I mean time.... planting a garden. I'm slowly learning what grows well and doesn't grow well. This time around I decided to focus on just two plants that I know have grown well, roma tomatoes and bush beans.

      Organic Garden Helper
      Organic Garden Helper
       Organic Garden Helper

      Of course I use all organic methods in planting and raising my garden. From the fertilizer to the soil. Thankfully Lowes has been amazing at making sure they keep a great stock of organic soil and fertilizer. They also have a good line of sprays to keep the bugs away that are also organic.
      Here is what I use in my Organic garden.
      Organic Garden
      if you are curious. the garden bed to the left is broccoli, cauliflower, and kale from my winter garden.
      Here are some of the items I use in my organic garden:

      Neem Oil Garden Safe (great natural pest killer)
      Garden Safe Fungicide (helps keep the mold away)

      It is hard to find tomato plants that are organic around my area. 
      However, we have a local nursery and they do their best not spray anything horrible on them. 
      It is easy to find organic bush bean seeds though. I found mine at Lowes.

      Organic Garden

      Are any of you planting a garden for a summer harvest?? 
      Would love to hear what you are planting! 

      easy cooking

      Making a Gluten Free Meal

      8:00 AM

      Gluten free funny.
      One of the hardest things about making a gluten free meal or baking gluten free is that sometimes the ingredient list is SUPER long and requires many expensive ingredients. Add in Organic and natural products and your grocery bill gets pretty prices.

      I have complied some tips on how to make a meal gluten free without breaking the bank.

      Side Note: I wrote a post about Shopping Organic and Healthy on a Newlywed Budget here if you want to check that out too! 

      Know what you can and can't substitute:
      Its pretty east to substitute ingredients in recipes if you know WHAT you can and can't. For instance, its pretty easy to substituted Soy Sauce for Gluten Free Soy Sauce, pasta for GF pasta, so on and so forth. However, don't try to get gusty and substitute harder ingredients like flour, especially when it comes to baking. You can sometimes get away with it with cooking but when baking it is easier to stick to gluten free. Using gluten free flours and starches is hard enough so its better (and less stressful) to stick to a recipe that is already gluten free then try to make a non-GF recipe gluten free.

      Small the better:
      Pick recipe's with the fewest ingredients. One of my rules when choosing a new recipe is that I make sure it is simple yet full of nutrition. One of my husbands favorite recipes that I make is Stir Fry. I make a very healthy version using rice, veggies, egg's, soy sauce (GF) and sesame oil (all organic of course). Super simple, GF,and full of nutrition.

      Realize some stuff is worth buying even though it can be expensive:
      GF  Organic Soy Sauce is almost $4 at my local grocery store. Yup, that is expensive. However, I look at it this way, it is one of the easiest ingredients to substitute so to me, its worth the money. 

      Stick to the basics:
      Sometimes its better to stick to the basics. One of my favorite basic meals to make is a baked lemon chicken with rice and veggies/salad. Easy, cheep, and gluten free. 

      Find GF All-In One Meals: 
      Make it easier on yourself and try to find healthy All In One Meals. Modern Table Meals is one of my favorite GF All-In One meals. In just 15 quick minuets you can have a delicious pasta meal. I made some the other night and the poor hubster was so upset when there wasn't any more for 2nd helpings! You can also find many other GF All-In One meals in the freezer sections of your grocery store or local health food.

      While these aren't the most elaborate of tips I hope they help! I know how hard it is to make great meals that are also gluten free and healthy.

      Do you have any tips for cooking/baking Gluten Free?? 
      I'd love to hear them! I struggle with GF baking, its my weakness :o


      Natural Dog Care Tips

      8:00 AM

      When we got our sweet puppy Bruno, my husband and I agreed we were going to feed and take care of him as naturally as possible. We are a very "natural" family. I wouldn't consider us 100% holistic but I try to go the natural route as much as possible. While I am not a vet, I consulted with my vet (bless her heart for answering all my questions ;) ) and some reliable sources on the internet to help us take care of our *growing* puppy naturally and I wanted to share them with you.

      Before I start. I am NOT A VET. These are just some things I have found that work for my pup. 
      But puppies/dogs are all different and have different needs.
      Bruno is a Shepard mix and a VERY large puppy so what works for him might not work for a terrier.
      So, take my advice with a grain of salt. I won't be offended ;)

      Natural Dog Care Tips
      If you are asking, Yes, Bruno is still a puppy. He is 5.5months and weighs almost 40lbs. 
      He's our big boy.

      Flea and Tick Care
      While I do make sure the pup takes his Heartguard on a monthly basis, I try to not immediately go for the flea medication every month if he doesn't need it.
      Being a rescue, Bruno came with a lot little problems, from worms, to a small bit of mange, to constant fleas. While I knew the worms and mange needed to be take care of with medication, and that there was nothing around that, I remember hearing that fleas can be kept away naturally sometimes.
      After a couple weeks did some research and started giving Bruno a small clove of fresh garlic (cut up) once a week, mixed in with his food. Ever since I started doing that I have not seen a flea on him or seen him itch as much.
      Now, if he does get fleas, I'm not against flea medication, It is just nice to know I've found something that will help prevent that as much as possible.

      *Bruno is a mixed breed, but he is mixed with a larger breed of dogs so his stomach can take a little garlic every week. PLEASE NOTE that if your dog is small or comes from a smaller breed, this might not be the case, consult a vet.*

      Lavender Oil
      I knew lavender oil was great for calming babies but I had no idea it would work for dogs! I grabbed a Aura Cacia lavender oil mist bottle on one of our runs to Whole Foods. While it doesn't completely calm our pup down, it does help. I will spray a little on his back every now and then (it ALSO helps keep away fleas) and on his kennel blankets after I clean them every week.

      Cleaning the Blankets and Sheets
      Since we found out Bruno had a small case of mange, he has been on a weekly bath schedule. Every time he gets a bath I make sure to wash his blankets. Caesar Milan suggest (and I recommend as well) washing your dogs blankets with a hypo allergenic laundry detergent and add some baking soda to soften and deodorize your dogs blankets. Try to air dry the blankets but if you can't just try not to add a scented fabric sheet if you place them in the dryer.

      Natural Dog Care Tips

      And speaking of bathing, I don't suggest giving your dog a bath every week unless directed by your vet (just like Bruno). Try to make it only once a month. Also, find the most natural shampoo possible. You might have to pay a little more but at least you know you aren't putting chemicals on your dog.Ask your vet what they suggest. Sometimes what they have at their office is the same price as what you'd pay at the pet store. Dog's have different skin types, so while Bruno needs a oatmeal shampoo for his dry skin, another dog might need a different kind of shampoo for sensitive skin.

      The Food
      Everyone has their own opinion on dog food. I for one, think Grain-Free is the best. While Grain-free can be pretty expensive, we found that Walmart carries a brand called Pure Balance that is grain free and probably the best natural dog food out there for the price.
      Also, I learned that keeping your puppy off yeast will also help them with mange. It is common for puppies to get mange and most of the time it is not server. However, you can help not encourage the mites that are causing the mange by making sure there is no yeast for them to feed on (Mites love yeast)
      This also applies to treats. We love Nutro dog treats. They have great non-meat treats but pups and dogs. Bruno's favorite are the Banana and Apple flavors.

      Our vet recommended we give Bruno fish oil to help his dry skin while we where treating his mange. It help tremendously. I also started giving him one 500mg of Vitamin C once a day to help boost his immune system since we are not home during the day (during the week) to let him outside to play with him so his immune system can build. I think its helping tremendously. But like I said before, consult with a vet before giving your dog any type of supplement.

      I was fully against rawhides when we first got Bruno. I just didn't like the idea of giving my dog a crappy piece of "bone" to chew on and digest. We are very blessed in the sense that Bruno is not a chewer of our things. He has never tried to chew our furniture or things he's not supposed to. Sometimes we are too tired to play with him or its too early in the morning for him to be hyper so we need something to pacify him. I finally caved but I made sure we bought him rawhides from our local health food stores that made sure they were the best out there for our pup. The biggest thing for me is to make sure it is made in the U.S and free from chemicals. Also, don't let them chew on the rawhides often and for a long period of time, it will sometimes upset their stomachs.

      Natural Dog Care Tips

      I hope my tips were helpful :) I'm am an animal lover at heart. I grew up around them, even volunteered at the zoo as a teenager for a short amount of time and I love to make sure animals are taken care of the right way.
      Bruno is not spoiled by any means, but that doesn't mean we aren't going to do our best to take care of him.

      I'd loved to hear any tips you have for dogs!!