Monday, March 21, 2016


Hey ya'll!  If you've come to visit Olivia Makes A Life, I've got some exciting news!

You can now click here to visit the site!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chicken Pesto Salad

As I've mentioned before, I live in Western Pa.  I am located in a small rural area that leaves much to be desired in restaurant choices. 

Sure, we have McDonalds, Taco Bell, Burger King, and Wendys.  A Perkins, Ruby Tuesday, and Ponderosa.  

But, there are not many of my favorite restaurants in my area.  Some of my faves include Olive Garden, Cracker Barrel, Texas Roadhouse, etc.  Those are nowhere to be found.  To be exact any of those restaurants are at least an hour and a half away.

We do have a few hidden gems.  I personally really like the Italian Oven.  From what I can tell there are only 2 of these restaurants.  One is in DuBois, PA and the other in Johnstown, PA (like where the famous flood happened.)

Many times my friend and I will go to lunch here and they have a salad that is divine!  It is a chicken pesto salad.  It's lettuce, pesto, chicken, some veggies, and the best part--penne pasta!  I love pasta and salad, so the combination won me over!  The first time I ate it I ordered it on a whim not really knowing what it would be like.  Now I barely look at the menu because I already know what I'm going to eat. 

Though the restaurant isn't terribly priced, we don't go there often just because we are trying to be super duper frugal.  So I decided to do my own copycat version for lunch today, and it turned out AWESOME!

Also, Aldi has pesto now!  It's in a little jar by the pasta and as is tasty as can be!

 Here we go.

The salad uses a basic iceberg lettuce mix that you can get pre-bagged in the store.  I had this on hand and used it as my lettuce base but romaine would be excellent to.

So lay down your lettuce base--however much or little you want.

Then, spoon a little pesto over the lettuce.  I am slightly heavy handed here since I love the pesto, but if you are watching your calorie intake, I would recommend only using the 2 tablespoon serving size.  ( I actually put the pasta down first then the pesto-but either way, it's delish!)

After your pesto is situated, throw on some naked penne pasta!

It's that easy!  The restaurant version added chicken, tomatoes, and cucumbers, but I didn't have any of those things with me, so I had a bare bones salad.  And you know what?  It was still just as good as the restaurant.  

I added a hard boiled egg to mine for some protein and topped it with zesty Italian dressing.  It was lunch time heaven.  I gobbled it up and I got up to date on the social media happenings since this morning.

Give this a try and let me know what you think!  Are pasta and salad your thing?

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Make Up Monday-Easy Lip Exfoliator

I was reading Shape magazine this weekend, and it had an article talking about the new lip colors for spring.  Spoiler alert-pastels.  It's so original, right?

Any way, the key to having your lip color look fabulous is to have ultra smooth lips.

Today I'm going to share my all natural, super easy lip exfoliator.  I can almost guarantee that you have these items in your pantry!

Here we go!


  • sugar
  • olive oil or coconut oil

That easy!  Put a little sugar in a custard cup then slowly add in oil.  I prefer for the mixture to be fairly dry.

To use:
  • wet your lips 
  • rub the mixture over them
  • rinse off
  • apply moisturizers
Don't go gentle.  Be a little rough on your lips to really slough the dead skin off.  I always rinse with warm water then apply a moisturizer like coconut oil.  If your mixture has a lot of oil in it, you may not need to moisturize afterwards.

There you go.  Super easy, 2 ingredient lip exfoliator.  
Note: You could also use baking soda.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Simple Quesadilla

Weeknight dinner alert!

What do you make when you are short on time and didn't thaw anything from the freezer?

Bean and cheese quesadillas! 

Quesadillas turn up pretty often in our house since they are easy to make and my husband loves them.  What's even better is that they are pretty individual.  You can make them all the same, or everyone can make their own with different ingredients.

Last week was busy!  I arrived home one night and didn't have anything thawed out, so I had to figure something out fast. 

Enter the quesadilla.

Usually we have quesadillas with chicken, but I didn't have any thawed, so I added in the black beans for protein.  

We've used a myriad of ingredients such as: olives, sauteed onions, salsa, green onions, etc.  We've even made buffalo chicken quesadillas!

So if it's 5:30 pm, and you're hungry, get to work.  You'll be feasting in 5 minutes!

First, heat a little bit of olive oil in your skillet over a medium-low heat.

Next, lay a tortilla down and start topping it with your ingredients.

Once you have everything on your tortilla, cover it with another one.  Let the tortillas crisp up a bit-typically 1-2 minutes.  Use a spatula to peek at the bottom side to keep it from getting burnt.  After the underside is golden brown, turn the tortilla over to brown the other side.

Remove from the heat and cut into triangles.

I usually cut this into 6 pieces and use my pizza slicer to cut it with ease!

For these specific quesadillas I used sharp cheddar cheese, black beans, and hot sauce.

Spanish rice recipe to follow!

Comment and tell me your go to quick meal!  I'm always looking for new dinner ideas!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Strawberry Banana Smoothie Recipe

For our third installment of smoothie recipes, I bring you strawberry banana.  If you missed our first 2 flavors, mixed berry and strawberry, you can check them out here and here.

I know that strawberry banana is a smoothie classic and many people (my husband included) love it, but it's not for me mainly because I have a long standing hatred of bananas.  When I was giving students smoothie flavor options for our lab, I didn't include this flavor originally, but several specifically asked if we could add it to the mix.

So I hope all you strawberry banana lovers enjoy this recipe!
Blend. Drink. Enjoy.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

4-H Funding in Pennsylvania

4-H funding is in danger in Pennsylvania.

Today after a test in class, several students of mine who are highly involved in 4-H alerted me to the fact that 4-H funding is in trouble.  Governor Tom Wolf would like to cut $50.5 million dollars in funding.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with 4-H, it is an agricultural program that teaches participants skills including, but not limited to: 
  • time management
  • speaking
  • social
  • responsibilities in caring for animals 
The 4-H website lists their goals as:
  • To increase a member’s knowledge in a variety of project areas, while teaching life-skills such as decision-making, public speaking, and leadership.
  • These goals can be accomplished through communicating in a group, working cooperatively and being responsible. Members can learn through experience, preparing, designing and evaluating their projects.
The program is highly reliant on participants working together to achieve successful state fairs, shows, and other various programs.

This program needs to be funded.  It teaches more than just "raising animals."  It teaches valuable skills that participants will use their whole lives such as those listed above.

I asked several of my students to write down what they have learned from 4-H and how they intend to use it in their lives.

Here is what one student had to say:
"It teaches you responsibility because you must take care of your animals, you must feed them at least twice a day, clean their pens or stalls at least once and bathe them a couple times a week.  And if you want them to look really nice you can brush them..."  ~Janelle

She goes on to say that she has had the opportunity to meet many new people and travel to several states due to her involvement in 4-H.

So I ask you to please sign the petition to support 4-H funding. Go here to sign!

No Bake Lactation Cookies

I've mentioned before that I'm a nursing mother.  I truly enjoy the time with Mr. Mack and am sad to know it will end eventually.  

While I'm at school, I pump for him.  Lately, I've been pumping barely enough, so I've been trying some different recipes and remedies to try and boost my supply.  Yes, I have enough for my baby right now, but my freezer stash is down to 2 bags, so I'd like to try to get a little extra for a rainy, I mean, extremely hungry day.

Enter Booby Bites.  I've tried different lactation cookies before, mainly oatmeal, but how many oatmeal raisin cookies can a lady eat?  I wanted to try something new this time, so I found this booby bites recipe on Pinterest.

While the recipe looks great and is wonderfully simple, I had some problems with it.  Primarily I loathe coconut.  Also, when I went to actually make these, I was out of honey and didn't have an chocolate chips.  So of course, I improvised.  

Here is what I ended up doing.

I ordered the Brewers Yeast from Amazon.  Who doesn't love Prime 2 day shipping?  I had the flax seed from a bulk store in the area, and the agave was from Aldi.  (Remember, I didn't have any honey.  Plus, I don't really like honey.)  The rest are fairly common ingredients that I keep stocked in my house.

I started with the dry ingredients as the post said to do.

Then added in the rest and mixed it up.  This is how it came out.

I refrigerated it for over an hour due to getting side tracked and working on other things.

I used my large cookie dough scoop and then finished forming them into balls with my hands.

I will say that since my version contains a lot of oatmeal, they are pretty packy, but they were a nice break from oatmeal raisin cookies and a lot easier since I didn't have to spend time waiting for different batches to bake.

I hope you enjoy these if you try them out.  Comment and let me know what you think and if you make any other alterations to the recipe!

Olivia Makes A Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associations Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  If you choose to purchase an item from one of my Amazon link, I will receive a very small compensation of which I will be eternally grateful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Furminator Review

Tis dog shedding season!  Hair!  Hair everywhere.  Floating through the air.  Laying on the steps.  Sneaking onto plates.  Wait!  How did it get there?  Ev-ry-where.  Ew.

So what's a girl to do?

Buy a Furminator!  

The Furminator came highly recommended to us by our groomer.  We happened to mention one day Red was there that he was shedding uncontrollably.  She gave him a quick brush down, and the amount of hair that came off of him was almost unbelievable.  So we decided to buy one.

The Furminator is a type of brush that also gets to the undercoat of the dog.  The description on Amazon claims that it can reduce shedding up to 90%.  I will say that it is rather pricey, but after using it, I believe it is worth it.

It is very simple to use.  You must use it when your dog is completely dry.  You just brush your dog like normal and take short strokes.  When the brush is full, you can use a little button on it to eject the hair.  I believe the instructions recommended brushing your dog at least twice a week for approximately 10 minutes at a time.  It also suggested using it more during heavy times of shedding.

I used the Furminator on Red the other day for only 5 minutes, and these were the results.  Hopefully the dust pan will give you an idea of how large the pile of hair actually was, and Red isn't even at his worst shedding point yet.  Remember this was only 5 minutes of brushing-not the recommended 10!  Also, those are 12 inches square tiles.

That's more hair than I lose in a year!

I try to brush him outside and gather the hair or let it fly away, but I brushed him inside so I could collect it all to show you.  I do brush him inside during the winter and try to do it on a hard flooring surface.  I recommend using the vacuum to suck it up because the broom will sometimes stir it up, and it will fly around!

So I would say as long as you're going to use it, it is worth it to invest in the Furminator.

Here is a guide to determine what size and type of brush to buy.  We have an 85 lb black lab and bought the large brush for short hair dogs.

There's also a handy vacuum attachment that I'm considering buying!

Moral of the story is buy the Furminator.  You will thank me and so will your carpets and flooring and clothes and food and bedding.  You get the picture!

Olivia Makes A Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associations Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  If you choose to purchase an item from one of my Amazon link, I will receive a very small compensation of which I will be eternally grateful.