Saturday, December 31, 2016

Wal-Mart Winter Beauty Boxes

Both my "Classic" and "Trendsetter" beauty boxes arrived earlier this week and my daughter's "Trendsetter" box followed just a few day later.  We always get just a little excited to see what we both received and whether we'll be doing any swapping!

The "Classic" box for winter contained the following:

  • Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer
  • Dove Go Fresh Revitalize Body Wash
  • Ponds Rejuveness Anti-Wrinkle Cream
  • CoverGirl Lashblast Volume Mascara
  • Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Yogurt
  • Dove Nutrium Ultra Nourishing Hair Care Trio (samples)
My "Trendsetter" box:

  • Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer
  • Dove Dry Oil Moisture Nourishing Body Wash
  • Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion
  • TRESemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo
  • Neutrogena Norweigan Formula Hand Cream
  • Garnier Whole Blends Green Apple & Green Tea Shampoo and Conditioner (samples)
  • LOreal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal Serum and Cream (samples)
My 14 year-old daughter's "Trendsetter" box contained slightly different items this month.  She didn't receive the Vaseline lotion, the dry shampoo, or the serum and cream samples.  Instead, she received a Dove Go Fresh Deodorant and the same CoverGirl mascara I received in the "Classic" version.

These seasonal Beauty Boxes continue to be an absolute steal at $5 each!  Can't wait to see what goodies will be in the Spring boxes!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.9

Exuviance Age Reverse Toning Neck Cream - "Developed exclusively for the fragile neck and décolletage, this potent firming and exfoliating treatment helps correct the telltale signs of premature aging and UV overexposure."

Thoughts:  Couldn't say if the claims are true or not.  This stuff is so strongly scented I can't stand to have it anywhere close to my nose!  It's heavily perfumed (reminds me of cucumber melon scent-wise) like a lotion you'd find at a bath and body store.  I've relegated this to a hand cream as it is nicely moisturizing.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream - "Cetaphil moisturizing cream is clinically proven to provide immediate and lasting relief from extremely dry skin. Its unique formula and superior system of emollients and humectants binds water to the skin, preventing moisture loss. Skin immediately feels hydrated and smooth."

Thoughts:  My little tub didn't specify whether this cream was meant for face or body (it seems they've changed the packaging recently) but it did mention it was non-comedogenic, so I decided to use it as a facial moisturizer.  My skin has been super dry lately and this stuff is amazing!  It sinks in quickly and eases tightness immediately.  While I've had a couple small whiteheads since using it's been nothing major and I can't tie them definitively to this cream.

Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover - "This do-it-all formula removes waterproof makeup and contains a lash-strengthening complex that's rich in flavonoids and olive wood extracts."

Thoughts:  Works just as well as some of the higher-end (and higher priced) makeup removers I've tried in the past!  It does leave behind a bit of greasiness but since I wash my face immediately afterwards I don't find it to be an issue.

Almay One Coat Mascara - "Almay's One Coat Multi-Benefit Mascara builds the ultimate lash look with volume, length, and definition while conditioning lashes."

Thoughts:  More like two or three coat mascara!  One coat adds a bit a length but at least one more is required for volume and to add some drama.  Doesn't flake or smudge.

Burberry Fresh Glow Luminous Fluid Base in "Nude Radiance 01" - "The 55% water-infused primer glides across the skin with incredible ease and hydrates instantly. Its blend of mirror-flat intense reflection pearls help to blur minor imperfections for a shimmer-free, youthful luminosity."

Thoughts:  Provides glow under sheer foundations and tinted moisturizers but is useless as a primer in regards to filling in pores or fine lines.  Great on top of makeup as a highlighter and isn't too shimmery.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

December Allure Beauty Box

My December Allure Beauty Box arrived and contained the following:
I love lemon scented anything so I'm happy I received Coastal Salt & Soul Heavenly Hand Cream in Mediterranean Citrus!  It's described as an uplifting scent where "sea salt and warm ocean accords mix with fresh Grecian citron and earthy verbena."  It smells amazing and will be a great spring/summer scent!

I adore universal highlighters and though European Wax Center's Oh My Brow! Brow Highlighter is, well, labeled for brows, both the mini mag and website declare that it's amazing on your cheekbones too.  I'm excited to try it and hope it's as creamy as it looks!

I think I've mentioned before that "turkey neck" seems to strike early in my family.  One of my goals in life is to prevent this for as long as possible so needless to say, I embrace neck cream with open arms any time I receive one.  Tula Advanced Neck Cream is no exception.

Unfortunately for me, I'm worrying about aging skin and still worrying about breakouts.  Fortunately for me, SkinCeuticals understands and has Blemish + Age Defense serum to battle both at the same time!  I intend to use this solely on my chin (which is the only place I ever breakout) so a bottle should last for eons.

Also for skincare, I received Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentre. I've heard fabulous things about it and it's been on my "to-try" list for awhile.  I've hesitated in trying it though because some acne-prone reviewers say it caused quite a few breakouts.  I guess it's time to give it a go!

Last but not least, I also received Beautyblender Liquid Blendercleanser .  I thought that Beautyblender's solid cleanser did a great job of cleaning both sponges and brushes so I'm certain the liquid version will as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

So Choix December Samples

My December sample picks have arrived !

This month I chose:
  •  Chanel Rouge Allure Intense Lip Colour in "104 Passion"
  • Marc Jacobs New Nudes Sheer Lip Gel in "108 Have We Met"
  • Marc Jacobs New Nudes Sheer Lip Gel in "114 Understudy"
  • Guerlain Lingerie De Peau Natural Perfection Foundation SPF 20 in "00N"
  • Tom Ford Bronzing Primer

  • With flash.  Swatched from L to R in order listed above.

    If you’d like to learn more about So Choix you can check out their FAQs, and if you’d like to sign-up I’d be much obliged if you did so through my referral link!  Happy sampling!

    Saturday, December 3, 2016

    Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.8

    This week's round-up of products has some "Love", some "Like", and one definite "Lose It"!
    Seche Lacquer in "Refined" (used with Seche Vite Top Coat) - A new way to experience lacquer from the creators of the award winning Seche Vite.  Available in 24 beautiful, fast-drying shades--in nudes, pastels, brights, medium and dark tones."
    Thoughts:  This polish looked flawless for 3 full days!  I didn't see noticeable chipping until day 4 and even then that was only on two fingers.  That's huge for me.  I typically see chipping the day after I paint my nails so this lacquer is a major win!
    CHI Infra Texture - "A Hair Spray that fast dries, styles and finishes for an instantly smooth texture and incredible shine. Ideal for all your flat or curling iron styles for lift, movement, texture and control."
    Thoughts:  I wish it had a little more hold - I need to use a stronger hairspray to actually hold my hair in place. It works very well as a protectant and pre-styling spray for heat tools however and there is no noticeable buildup.

    R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo - "This dry shampoo will do more than clean up your hair; it'll lend it a kind of untamed texture—not unlike the landscape from which it takes its name. Just a few sprays will absorb excess oil, increase volume, and add definition."
    Thoughts:  This does not work as a dry shampoo.  Dry shampoo is supposed to absorb oil and give volume to second day or "just went to the gym" hair.  This does not do that.  I'll give it some points for adding texture to freshly washed hair and for not having white residue though.
    Belif The True Cream - Aqua Bomb - "an invigorating gel type cream that supplies instant moisture to the skin while forming a protective layer that wraps the skin in comfort."
    Thoughts:  This is literally like a drink of water for your skin. I loved it - until I broke out with whiteheads on my chin two days later. I continued using it hoping the breakout was either a fluke or an adjustment period, but whitehead after whitehead cropped up over the following days.

    Sunday, November 27, 2016

    Easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake

    A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that fall was nearly over and I hadn't made a single autumn-type baked good. Typically I'd have made a batch of apple butter weeks ago,  followed by baking so many muffins and loaves of pumpkin bread to go with it that I'd almost be sick of them by now! 

    Last weekend my house was filled with the smell of Slow-Cooker Apple Butter so I decided it was high time I got to using the case of canned pumpkin in my pantry.
    This cake is absolutely wonderful and is super easy to whip up thanks to boxed cake mix.  It's also super moist and delicious on it's own - no cream cheese glaze or apple butter necessary!  (Though I always slather a slice with the latter because, well, apple butter is amazing.  And I have 6 jars of it. ) :D

    Easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake
    1 box yellow cake mix
    1/3c granulated sugar
    4 eggs
    1/3c vegetable oil
    1/4c water
    1/3c sour cream
    1 15oz can pure pumpkin
    1T pumpkin pie spice
    1 - Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Generously grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt cake pan.
    2 - In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with an electric or stand mixer on low speed until moistened, then on medium speed until well combined.  (Or mix by hand 2 minutes or until well combined.)  Pour batter into prepared pan.
    3 - Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.  Cool completely before serving.
    Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker

    Monday, November 21, 2016

    November Allure Beauty Box

    My most recent Allure Beauty Box showed up in my mailbox last Friday!  Silly me remembered to post a picture on Instagram but then completely spaced off posting on here! 
    Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat has been a manicure must-have of mine for few years now. I'm willing to bet their new Lacquer will be just as great.  They sent me "Refined" which is the perfect red for fall and the upcoming holidays.
    I've yet to master liquid liner.  I actually don't even want to talk about how many times I've tried and failed. (Unless it's 10pm and I'm "just practicing"...  Then I nail a cat-eye every single time.)  From what I've heard, Eyeko is the gold standard of liquid liners so I guess I owe it another go!
    The box was rounded out with Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline (Man these bottles are beautiful!), a hydrating sheet mask from Bon Vivant that my cold weather dry skin can hardly wait to try, and the indulgent sounding Icelandic Moonflower body lotion by Red Flower.

    Thursday, November 17, 2016

    What I'm Reading: Eating in the Middle


    “In her inspiring New York Times bestselling memoir, It Was Me All Along, Andie Mitchell chronicled her struggles with obesity, losing weight, and finding balance. Now, in her debut cookbook, she gives readers the dishes that helped her reach her goals and maintain her new size.”
    The above is Amazon’s description for Andie Mitchell’s Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook.  For the most part I really like this book, although some of the recipes I found to be a bit… blasé.  Take the Kale Chips and Roasted Broccoli recipes for example.  Who hasn’t roasted broccoli or seen the same kale chip recipe over and over?

    Many of the recipes however are quite original and I can’t wait to test a few out!   Like the Brown Sugar & Chili-Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Crema pictured below.  (Fingers crossed this one convinces my husband to like salmon!)

    Or how about Baked Banana Bread Doughnuts? (Maple-Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze optional.) Or Chocolate Raspberry Breakfast Pudding to start your day?

    Along with the recipes she shares, Andie also shares stories.  She tells stories about how she gained the weight, “a-ha!” moments she had losing the weight, and lessons she learned along the way. Obviously, to lose the weight in the first place she had to make changes to the way she had been eating.  Just as obviously, she had to keep those changes in place and make them her new normal.  Andie describes this cookbook as, “structured the way I eat and live my life.”  The vast majority of the recipes are healthy and wholesome with good-for-your waist line calorie counts, (she includes nutritional information with every recipe), but there also dessert recipes with real sugar and butter.  No fake or low calorie “desserts” in this book -  just the “sometime” foods that are meant to be indulged in… sometimes.  It’s all about balance.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016

    November Birchbox

    November's Birchbox is titled "The Finishing Touch" and contains the following products that make that extra little bit of difference:

    • Balance Me Tinted Wonder Eye Cream
    • Chella Eyebrow Pencil in "Tantalizing Taupe"
    • Coastal Scents Blush and Highlighter Duo
    • R+Co Death Valley Dry Shampoo
    • Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream with SPF 40
    I'm loving this box right off the bat because the Supergoop! hand cream is already a staple of mine and this mini tube will be great for my purse!  Another staple of mine is dry shampoo - I use it on an almost daily basis and haven't tried R+Co's yet so I'm looking forward to it!

    I'm really liking the skinny tip of the Chella Eyebrow Pencil.  A skinny pencil makes it's super easy to get natural looking hair-like pencil strokes.  Not sure if the taupe shade will be dark enough for me but we'll see!

    I've never used a tinted anti-aging eye cream before so this one by Balance Me will be something of a new experience.  I'm excited to see if it'll replace concealer after nights I didn't get enough sleep!  Hopefully between that and the pretty champagne highlighter and blush shades from Coastal Scents I'll look healthy and refreshed no matter what!  (And with cold and flu season upon us I may need it sooner than later...)

    Wednesday, November 9, 2016

    So Choix November Samples

    So here's my November sample picks from So Choix's personal makeup counter! This time around I chose a full face of makeup - foundation, eye shadow, brow gel, and lip gloss.

    • NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint in "Terre Neuve"
    • Tom Ford Cream Color for Eyes in "Burnished Copper" and "Opale"
    • Burberry First Kiss Glossy Lip Balm in "1 Soft Peach"
    • Lancôme Sourcils Waterproof Eyebrow Gel-Cream in "02 Auburn"
    If you'd like to learn more about So Choix you can check out their FAQs, and if you’d like to sign-up I’d be much obliged if you did so through my referral link!  Happy sampling!

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016

    Fish with Spicy Tomatoes

    This is one of the easiest, tastiest, and healthiest recipes I have ever come across!  It's been a busy weeknight go-to of mine for a while now and was in pretty heavy rotation while I was on a low-carb diet. 
    Pictured here with flounder! 
    I typically serve it over brown rice but also love it with roasted zucchini or a side of broccoli when I'm watching my carbs. 
    Please note that the tomatoes have quite a spicy kick!  If spicy isn’t your thing then either substitute another can of diced tomatoes for the tomatoes with chiles, or cut the creole seasoning by half.

    Fish with Spicy Tomatoes
    4 – 4oz fillets of white fish (flounder, cod, or tilapia)
    1T olive oil
    ½ onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained
    10oz can diced tomatoes with chiles, drained
    1T creole seasoning

    In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.   Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add both cans of tomatoes and creole seasoning.  Stir until heated through.

    Lay fish fillets over the sauce and cover.  Cook 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

    Serve over brown rice and/or with a side of roasted vegetables

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016

    What I'm Reading: Empire of Storms

    Empire of Storms is the 5th book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Mass.  If memory serves me correctly, a friend introduced me to these books after I finished The Mortal Instruments series and didn't know what to do with my life.  The Throne of Glass series is Adult Fantasy complete with assassins, fae, witches, kings, and demons.  It's full of suspense with a little bit of romance and good mix of wit and humor.
    As with any long running series where one is waiting a year or more for the next book, I was a few chapters in before I remembered exactly what was going on and with whom.  (There are several prominent characters and their stories all intertwine, so I had more than a few moments where I was staring off into space trying to remember what had happened previously.)
    I have a hard time putting this book down ("Sleep?  Oh, do I need that?") and I'm sure I'll be finished within a week.  Then... I can start waiting nearly another year for the 6th book. *sigh*

    Friday, October 28, 2016

    Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.7

    This Love It, Like It, or Lose It review is full of "Loves"! 

    Purlisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing Milk - "a gentle, soap & sulfate free cleanser that washes away dirt, impurities & makeup in 1 simple step.  This soothing multi-tasker leaves skin pure and clean without stripping skin of its natural oils."

    Thoughts:  I agree with the above description 100%!  This is a fabulous cleanser!  It feels very gentle (which often means ineffective) and is non-drying, so the first couple of times I used it, I followed it with a toner.  I was fully expecting to see foundation on the cotton pad but there wasn't a trace!

    Purlisse Blue Lotus Essential Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 - "offers superior full-spectrum sun protection without a white tint.  This lightweight, nourishing formula pampers & protects against premature aging caused by the sun’s rays for healthy, smooth & soft skin."

    Thoughts:  As I mentioned above this is another "love" for me, but this one comes with a caveat.  It is nicely moisturizing, makes my skin look glowy, and has higher SPF without the thick goopiness of many sunscreens.  The caveat - do NOT get this near your eyes.  On busy mornings I often pat my facial moisturizer underneath my eyes in place of separate eye cream.  Doing that with this moisturizer resulted in me streaming tears for a solid 15 minutes.  I've done this with dozens of moisturizers over the years (including others with SPF) and have never had my eyes burn that badly!

    Kate Somerville Exfolikate - "reveal a glowing, fresh-from-the-Clinic complexion. Scrubbing Exfoliants are designed to deep clean pores while Fruit Enzymes help to clarify and renew skin, balancing hydration, without over-drying. See dramatically smoother, brighter, healthier-looking skin after just 1 use."

    Thoughts - This is the gold standard of exfoliators! Both a chemical and a physical exfoliator in one, it really does leave skin smooth and bright. 

    Ulta Eye Primer in "Nude Matte" - "A must have product for a crease fee look that lasts all day! Use this exclusive eye primer under eye shadow to prolong wear and eliminate creasing."

    Thoughts:  I was pleasantly surprised by how well this works! I apply at 7 in the morning and I'm still crease free at dinner time!  The matte-ness of this primer makes it ideal for cream shadows.  It applies as a "nude" shade so those who need some color correction may find it preferable to other primers that apply sheer.

    Clinique Lash Doubling Mascara - "Magnifies lashes to twice their size. Thickens them to maximum volume. In minimum time. Unique tapered brush finds every lash. For bigger, better lashes."

    Thougts:  Yup!  What they said!  This mascara lengthens and plumps my itty bitty lashes and the brush grabs every lash without me poking myself in the eye.  Minimal smudging and flaking by the end of the day too.

    Thursday, October 20, 2016

    October Allure Beauty Box

    I have to admit I'm a little more excited than normal about the products in my most recent beauty box!  It isn't often that I receive multiple staple products, products I've been wanting to try, and my favorite shade of shadow all in one box!
    I have seen body wash infused buffer sponges in stores before but have yet to try one.  I received one in here by Spongelle in the scent "Freesia Pear".  It smells very spa-like and I'm fairly excited to test out the whole "cleanse, exfoliate, massage, and nourish" all-in-one claim.  If it rings true certain family members may have to quit complaining that I take forever in the shower!  :)

    Dry shampoo is a staple of mine since I only wash my hair every 2-3 days.  I have tried Klorane Dry Shampoo previously and loved it so of course I was thrilled to see it when I opened the box!

    Another brand I was excited to see was Tatcha!  I love their Rice Enzyme Powder so I'm looking forward to trying their Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream.  I have hand lotions stashed all over the place (e.g. in my desk, the kitchen, my bag, on a living room window sill...)  and since upcoming winter weather means upcoming drier skin, I'm sure I'll be testing this out soon.

    Mally must really be promoting their mascara right now.  I received a travel-size of their Volumizing Mascara in my Birchbox last month and a full-size in this month's Allure box.  Guess I should make it part of my next Love It, Like It, or Lose It and see if it's worthy of them pushing it like they are!

    A weekly deep conditioner has been in my rotation of hair products for almost as long as I can remember.  My hair is long, it's been colored, and I heat style it so Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair!  will be put to the test shortly.

    Rounding out this month's box was a very wearable (and super flattering to blue eyes) bronze eye shadow from Doucce.  I received a single of "62 Kristi" which magnetically snaps right into one of their customizable palettes.  Fingers crossed I like the formula and color payoff so I can build my own palette with some of their other shades!


    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    October Birchbox

    This month's Birchbox is all about "reviving and restoring" and contained the following -

    • Madison Reed Nourishing Color-Enhancing Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Madison Reed Root Touch Up Sample Card
    • MAKE Silk Cream Lipstick in "Magnolia"
    • Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
    • Hustle Butter Luxe
    I've been toying with the idea of becoming a redhead for awhile now so I'm excited to see the products from Madison Reed.  I feel strongly that it was a serious oversight on God's part to make me a brunette, (I'm Irish, as white as whipped cream, and covered in freckles) so I'm taking these samples as further confirmation I should color my hair again. 

    I'm extremely intrigued by the Hustle Butter Luxe.  It's a multipurpose cream that supposedly treats every skin issue from dryness to bug bites.  I'll definitely be reviewing this on an upcoming Love It, Like It, or Lose It post!

    I'm loving the description of the MAKE Silk Cream Lipstick.  It's described as "vivid, saturated color that does double duty as a protective moisturizing treatment."  Unfortunately "Magnolia" is a "medium-violet" shade that is most definitely not a color I'll wear, so this will be getting passed along to a friend.

    I've used Tata Harper's Resurfacing Mask in the past and loved it so obviously I was delighted to see it in my box this month!  Smooth skin awaits!

    Friday, October 14, 2016

    So Choix October Samples

    My October So Choix samples showed up in my mailbox today!  This month I focused entirely on my face.  A treatment serum, moisturizer, primer, and two foundations.  So Choix also included a bonus sample packet with my order which is something that they do from time to time.

    In case you missed previous posts and are wondering, So Choix is a “personal makeup counter” where instead of receiving random samples every month, you get to pick exactly what brands/products/shades you want to try.  They allow you to order one sample at a time or to sign up for a subscription and receive 5 samples per month.

    This month I chose –

    - Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Recovery Complex II
    - Guerlain Meteorites Oxygen Care Moisturizer & Radiance Booster
    - Laura Mercier Blemish-Less Foundation Primer
    - Chanel Ultrawear Flawless Foundation in “12 Beige Rose”
    - Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick in “Alabaster”
    - Bonus Sample – Chanel Le Blanc Multi-Use Illuminating Base

    If you’d like to learn more about So Choix you can check out their FAQsor if you’d like to sign-up I’d be much obliged if you did so through my referral link!  Happy sampling!

    Monday, October 10, 2016

    Project: Recipe Cleanout - Chocolate Cake with Pudding Frosting

    My daughter requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for her birthday.  Baking this cake was somewhat of an adventure despite the fact that I’ve probably baked close to one hundred cakes previously.  Both of my daughters were in the kitchen helping measure this or adding that, and after we put the pans in the oven and were cleaning up, I grabbed the sugar canister to put it back in the cabinet and  thought, “Sugar...  I don’t recall asking anyone to measure out sugar.  Shoot.”  So, the half-baked cakes came out of the oven to cool, were tossed in the trash, and we started over.  I decided it was good lesson for my daughters to learn -  the importance of carefully reading and double-checking a recipe.

    This is the first recipe from my binder that is part of my Recipe Cleanout project.  This is a cake recipe that I’ve had on file for years but have never gotten around to making until now.  It receives very high ratings on Hershey’s website so I had high hopes. The only adjustment I made for the cake batter was to use coffee in place of the water.  (Coffee enhances the chocolate flavor in recipes in case you weren’t aware.)   Then, instead of their frosting  I decided to pair it with a delicious but simple frosting recipe that I've been making for eons.  I used chocolate pudding for this recipe, but it’s great with other flavors (like vanilla and Oreo) as well!

    True to my Project: Recipe Cleanout commitment, I’m letting you know that this is not the best ever chocolate cake as the multitude of 5 star reviews would lead you to believe.  It looked beautiful out of the oven and it’s super moist, but the flavor of the cake by itself is just sort of “meh”.  The frosting is what made it delicious overall (and I’m wondering if their frosting too is the reason for the great reviews.)

    Since the cake was a bit of a let down I won't be posting the recipe here.  The recipe for the super simple and versatile pudding frosting I will share though!  It's the perfect frosting for cake or brownies, as a dip for animal or graham crackers, and as a layer in pudding pies or trifles!

    Easy Pudding Frosting
    1 - 3.9oz box instant pudding mix
    1c milk
    1 - 8oz tub whipped topping, thawed
    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together pudding mix and milk by hand for two minutes.  Allow pudding to set and thicken for 5 minutes.  Whisk in whipped topping.

    Makes enough frosting for a 2-layer cake.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

    (Cake recipe reviewed here was slightly adapted from Hershey's . Pudding frosting recipe is my own.)

    Tuesday, October 4, 2016

    Wal-Mart Fall Beauty Boxes

    Wal-Mart's seasonal beauty boxes are an insane value at only $5 each.  I subscribe to both the "Classic" and the "Trendy" boxes and also subscribe my teenage daughter to the "Trendy" box.

    This season's "Classic" box -

    The "Classic" box is geared toward women 30-35+ and this time around contained the following items:
    • Swisspers Exfoliating Cotton Rounds (full-size)
    • Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
    • Eucerin Eczema Relief
    • Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion
    • Dove Purely Pampering Moisturizing Body Wash
    • Vitabath Moisturizing Bath & Shower Gelee
    • Dove Advanced Care Cool Essentials Anti-Perspirant Deodorant
    • Village Naturals Aches+Pains Nighttime Relief Bath Soak
    • Simple Micellar Cleansing Water (sample)
    This Season's "Trendy" box -

    The "Trendy" box is geared towards the needs of typically younger women, though I still find most of the products to be relevant to my 30-something self. My daughter also receives this box and we enjoy swapping out and trading items. This time around we received the exact same items so I didn't see the point of taking yet another picture of the same box.  Usually though, we will receive slightly different products because she's in a different age bracket.  For example, I'll receive a Pantene hairspray while she'll receive Aussie. Or I'll get an Olay Regenerist skincare item and she'll get Neutrogena for oil control, but then we'll both have the same toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, etc.
    Fall's "Trendy" box contained:
    • Hello Extra Whitening Toothpaste
    • Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin, & Nails Gummies (sample)
    • Clean & Clear Deep Action 60 Second Shower Mask
    • EcoTools Makeup Brush Cleansing Cloth (sample)
    • Dove Purely Pampering Moisturizing Body Wash
    • Cetaphil Body Moisturizing Cream
    • Batiste Original Dry Shampoo
    • Biore Charcoal Pore Strips
    • Village Naturals Aches+Pains Muscle Relief Bath Soak
    So there you have it - beauty boxes full of daily essentials at marvelous price!  Can't wait to see what will be in the Winter boxes!

    Monday, October 3, 2016

    Dump and Done Ramen Salad

    The second recipe I prepared from Chrissy Teigen’s book Cravings is her Aunt Debby’s Dump and Done Ramen Salad.  It's very similar to the traditional ramen noodle salad made with coleslaw mix that many of us have eaten at picnics a hundred times, but this one I like better for a couple of reasons.  1 – I think the broccoli slaw holds up better in dressing.  (I was still enjoying the leftovers on day three whereas the coleslaw version would’ve been a soggy mess by the second day.)  2 – The addition of extra veggies...  Extra veggies means extra healthy, which means you should eat multiple servings.  Right?  Right.

    You absolutely should make this for your next Potluck or family barbecue!  Super easy to throw together,  full of veggies, and just plain delicious.  It was the perfect accompaniment to a brat and baked beans.  And then perfect again by itself as a quick lunch the next day!

    Dump and Done Ramen Salad
    3 - 3oz packages chicken flavored ramen noodles
    1 - 12oz package broccoli slaw
    1/2c red onion, thinly sliced
    1c frozen peas
    3/4c frozen corn
    1/2c sugar
    1/3c oil
    1/2c apple cider vinegar
    1c roasted and salted sunflower seeds
    Crush the ramen noodles into a large bowl and set the seasoning packets to the side.  Mix in the broccoli slaw, onion, peas, and corn. 
    In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the sugar, oil, apple cider vinegar, and seasoning packets.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir well and pour over the slaw mixture.  Toss until combined.  Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
    Toss in the sunflower seeds just before serving.
    Note - The salad will lose some of it's crunch by the second and third day (if it lasts that long!)  If you're making it for a smaller group and anticipate leftovers, only set out half the salad and mix in half the sunflower seeds.  The remaining sunflower seeds will add back in some of the lost crunch to the leftover salad the next day.
    Recipe adapted from Cravings

    Thursday, September 22, 2016

    Project: Recipe Clean Out

    I stopped counting the printed recipes stuffed into the front pocket when I got to 98.  At that point I realized I could just say, "There are over 100."

    Does anyone else have a binder with 5,362 recipes in it?  That's an exaggeration of course, but it really is a nearly overwhelming amount!  This binder is one of the reasons I started blogging – to keep track of things.  I tear recipe after recipe out of magazine after magazine with the full intention of making every single one, but of course, in reality I only test out one here and there and often return to family favorite recipes instead.

    This binder is the compilation of years’ worth of recipe tear-outs.  When I first started this binder I was very organized in regards to Breakfast, Sides, Desserts, etc.  I also used to be very good about checking to see if a recipe was available online and could be saved to that sites “recipe box” before stuffing yet another page into the binder.  “Used to” being the key words here.  Now, (and for quite some time), I rip out a recipe telling myself that I’ll check the magazine’s website later, but of course later never comes and the binder disaster you see pictured above is the result.

    The organized pages - Pasta
    The organized pages - Breakfast

    So… let “Project Recipe Clean Out” begin!  Recipes that I’m realistically just never going to make, like Mexican 16-Bean and Tomato Stew (no one else in my family would eat it), and Egg Foo Young (zero chance I'll make it better than the restaurant down the street), are going to get tossed into the recycle bin.  The other recipes I’m going to commit to making at least one a week.  Hopefully one from each category.  (Why not aim for an entire meal right?)  And I’m going to post about it regardless of whether it turns out or not because...

    Between online recipe folders, my binder, and Pinterest, I have ended up with the same exact recipes in different places. (Hence the main reason for me needing to keep track.)  I often don’t discover this until after I prepare one and there’s a quizzical look from my husband followed by, “Haven’t you made this before?”  When the answer to that question is “Yes,” he inevitably asks, “Well why didn’t you write it down?”   When the answer to that question is, “No,” I get a squinty eyed doubting look and, “I think you did.  You just don’t remember.  We both know you don’t write anything down.”
    Well dearest husband...  Now I shall.  :D

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    September Allure Beauty Box

    Drumroll please!  This month's Allure Beauty Box contained...

    I am weird about using coordinating products, so I was excited to see Pur-lisse Blue Lotus 4-in-1 Cleansing Milk after having received their Blue Lotus moisturizer in last month's box!

    A mini Supergoop Shine On Lip Screen will be going directly into my purse for reapplication on the go.  As I mentioned in my earlier review, I'm not a fan of the tingling feeling but... I'm definitely not a fan of getting skin cancer either so in my bag it goes!

    Yet another eye treatment.  Good gracious.  How fast does everyone else go through a tube of eye cream?  Even a mini one?  It takes me  Avene is a fantastic brand though so I have no choice but to quit using the eye cream in my cabinet and start using Eau Thermale Avene PhysioLift Eyes instead.  This one has retinol!

    Lash primer is something that I use daily.  I have the world's shortest eyelashes and mascara needs every bit of help it can get to make them visible.  (True story:  When I was in high school I used to joke that newborn babies have longer lashes than I do.  Then I interned on the maternity ward at the local hospital for a pre-college med class and found out it was true...) Needless to say, Grande Primer is a welcome addition to my arsenal.

    A nail polish that doesn't require a base or topcoat?  Sign me up! I received Orly Breathable Treatment + Color in "TLC".  This pale purple is more of a "Spring-y" shade in my opinion so I'll be waiting to test this one out.

    Last but not least I have a mini fragrance rounding out my September Box.  Bulgari Omnia Coral is described as a "fruity-floral" that is "crazy sophisticated and elegant".  On first sniff this seems like a great summer scent that has a great balance of not too sweet fruity-ness and not too "grandmotherly" florals. 

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.6

    I finally used up enough of my previous LLL products and had room for some new ones in my daily routine!
    Clairol Hair Food Dry Shampoo – “The lightweight hair refresher recipe absorbs excess oils and transforms oily hair into fresh hair.”

    Thoughts:  Smells great – very fresh and fruity and the scent isn’t overpowering.  It helps with oily roots some but not as well as other dry shampoos I’ve tried.  This won’t be a purchase for me.

    Marcelle BB Cream “Golden Glow” – “hydrates and calms skin, evens tone, controls shine, lightly masks imperfections, and, thanks to tiny flecks of light-reflecting pigments, infuses skin with a fresh-from the-yoga-studio radiance.”

    Thoughts:  Not for fair skin.  As soon as I opened the tube I knew it was going to be too dark, but after reading some reviews saying it blended seamlessly into fair skin I decided to give it a try.  Nope, nope, nope.  The small amount I applied seemed to live up to the claims though so I will be passing this along to a light-medium complexioned friend.

    Acure Coconut + Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes – “Gently remove makeup, dirt, sweat, environmental toxins, and that mustard from the corner of your mouth. No splashy rinsing necessary.”

    Thoughts:  These smell lovely and are non-irritating.  Not so great for makeup removal though.  I swabbed my forehead with a toner soaked cotton ball afterwards to check, and ended up using several to get rid of the remaining foundation. This definitely won’t be replacing my cleanser so I’ll be keeping these in my bag to freshen up after the gym instead.

    Ole Henriksen Lemon Strip Flash Peel – “A one-step express peel powered by lactic, glycolic and fruit acids that go to work in three ways to exfoliate and resurface skin, while algae extract soothes and calms. This spa grade treatment increases cell turnover, brightens skin tone and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a smoother, younger looking complexion.”

    Thoughts:  It resurfaces the skin alright!  Not a flake in sight I tell you.  I think it’s because it burns off the top layer of your skin.  Or at least it feels like it.  I was furiously fanning my face the first few minutes after application and was unable to leave it on the full 10 minutes.  Like I said, it works though!  Sensitive skin types should steer clear.

    Benefit Browvo Conditioning Primer – “Worn alone BROWVO! conditions & smooths brows.  Worn as a primer it enhances & extends the wear of other brow products.  This conditioning formula contains keratin & soy proteins known to help brows look THICKER, HEALTHIER & FULLER.”

    Thoughts:  I initially thought this product was going to be completely pointless.  Taking my brows into consideration, I was only sort of wrong.  I don’t have unruly brows, so on its own it is completely pointless for me. (Those with unruly brows may disagree.)  For use as a primer to other products I couldn’t have been more wrong.  This is great under brow gel!  It really helps the gel stick to my brow hairs so I use less product and take less time.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    So Choix September Samples

    My September So Choix samples showed up in my mailbox yesterday!  This month I essentially chose my morning routine as my sample choices – a moisturizer, foundation, setting powder, and two complimenting colors of eye shadow.

    In case you missed last month’s post and are wondering, So Choix is a “personal makeup counter” where instead of receiving random samples every month, you get to pick exactly what brands/products you want to try.  They allow you to order one sample at a time or to sign up for a subscription and receive 5 samples per month.

    Here are my choices –
    YSL Souffle D’eclat Finishing Veil “01”

    Smashbox Camera Ready BB Water “Fair Light”

    Dior Hydra Life Pro-Youth Sorbet Crème

    YSL Couture Mono Eyeshadow “17 Dedale” and “3 Marceau”

    If you’d like to learn more about So Choix you can check out their FAQsor if you’d like to sign-up I’d be much obliged if you did so through my referral link!  Happy sampling!

    Friday, September 9, 2016

    What I'm Reading: Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

    It’s no secret that I love cookbooks - antique and vintage cookbooks in particular.  The older the book and the more handwritten recipes on the inside cover the better!  I’ve amassed quite a collection of cookbooks, both old and new over the years, so shelf space (and husband) now require that I use a little more discretion when purchasing yet another.
    The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook caught my eye at the bookstore the other day.  Based on the title, I immediately assumed it contained recipes passed down through families from one generation to the next, and I was delighted when I realized that it was!  Grandma Hannah’s Blueberry Buckle?  Yes please!  The Ginger Squares Grandma Hannah learned to make from her grandma?  Major score! I have to say this is the next best thing to finding a vintage cookbook chock full of handwritten recipes at a resale shop or garage sale!

    The decision to buy this cookbook was easy.  The decision of what recipe to make first though…  Not so easy.  The aforementioned Blueberry Buckle or the upcoming season appropriate Pumpkin Crunch Bars?  Or shall I allow summer one last hurrah and bake Strawberry Cupcakes or Shortcakes?

    Decisions, decisions…



    Saturday, September 3, 2016

    What I'm Reading: Jilo

    Jilo is the 4th book in the Witching Savannah Series by J.D Horn.  I first came across this series about a year ago while browsing titles in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, and was sucked in completely within the first few chapters of the first book.  I was furious with myself when I realized months had gone by since the latest release and I’d somehow forgotten about it!

    Jilo takes place prior the first book, The Line, and it could certainly be read as a prequel to the rest of the series.    When finished,  I may go back and at least reread the first book to see if I make any connections I missed the first time around.

    Saturday, August 27, 2016

    Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.5

    I’m really starting to struggle with the challenge that I issued myself to test out 5 new products every week.  I can only use up products so fast!  I’m either going to have to take a week or two break from my Love It, Like It, or Lose It commitment, or only test products I think might end up in the “Lose It” pile.
    This week’s round-up of products –
    Make Up Forever Smoky Extravagant Mascara Ultra black, clump free mascara with extravagant volume and up close precision.

    Thoughts:  I’m not a big fan of the oddly shaped gigantic brush.  I do like the formula though – it really plumped up and lengthened my puny lashes.  There was minimal smudging and flaking at the end of the day.

    Benefit Goof Proof Brow Pencil in “3 Medium”everyone’s an expert with this super easy filling & shaping eyebrow pencil. It features a custom, non-sharpen “goof-proof” tip, soft color and a glide-on formula for easy & fast brow filling.

    Thoughts: This will be a future purchase!  I am not a brow expert by any stretch of the imagination but found this super easy to get very natural looking results.  No “painted on” look with this!

    Amore Pacific CC Cushion Compact “102”Experience the breakthrough air cushion technology that changed the face of beauty. Weightless, buildable coverage. Effortless perfection.

    Thoughts:  The lightest shade, “102 Light Pink” is not a perfect match for me (slightly too dark) but still works provided I only need sheer coverage that day.  Love the high SPF and the moisturization.  Will purchase if they come out with a “101”!

    Supergoop Lip Screen Did you know that traditional lipsticks and glosses can actually magnify UV rays? Yikes! This clear top coat allows your favorite lip color to shine through while acting as a powerful UV shield.

    Thoughts:  This might have been love if it wasn’t for the tingling.  This stuff feels like a plumping gloss with that slightly cool tingle that I absolutely hate.  Love the glossiness and that it’s not sticky.  I’m kind of on the fence with this one.

    Garnier Clearly Brighter Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 Developed with our Antioxidant Complex of Vitamin C & E, and gentle exfoliating Lipo-Hydroxyl Acid (LHA). This fast absorbing, non-greasy formula helps reduce the look of visible sun-damage, revealing radiant, more even-toned, younger-looking skin.

    Thoughts: This one’s a solid “like” for the time being.  Some days I don’t quite find it moisturizing enough and need to layer it with a heavier moisturizer.  It gets great reviews and can’t wait to see the long-term brightening benefits.

    Monday, August 22, 2016

    August Birchbox

    I was pretty excited about this box since it contains both brands and products that I already know and love!
    • Living Proof No Frizz Nourishing Oil
    • Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle
    • Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick “Patina”
    • Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow
    • Acure Organics Coconut & Argan Oil Cleansing Towelettes
    • HUM Nutrition Raw Beauty Superfood Powder
    In regards to Living Proof, I find their products to be pretty hit or miss for me.  This is one I haven’t tried but I always need “flyaway-fighting oil” that “hydrates and smooths” my freshly washed hair, so I’m excited to try it.

    The Beauty Protector has been a major staple of mine since I first tried it over a year ago.  Have you smelled this?!  It’s amazing – smells like dessert and protects against heat damage!

    This particular Stila lip product is one I haven’t tried but I’ve accumulated quite a few of their lipsticks and glosses over the years, so I’m fairly confident I’ll like this one as well.  “Patina” looks to be a very wearable neutral rose/mauve.

    The Marcelle BB Cream I’m feeling a little iffy on.  I’ve never heard of this brand first of all, and a lot of BB Creams are too dark for my fair skin so I wasn’t surprised when it looked too dark out of the tube.  Some reviewers say it’s great for pale skin though so I’ll give it a whirl.

    The cleansing cloths from Acure Organics I’m really excited to try.  I love Acure’s Argan Oil and have repurchased several times, but that’s the only product from them I’ve tried so far.

    The Hum Nutrition powder was a bonus sample and also something I’ve never tried.  I intend to mix it with Vanilla Almond milk and will report back!


    Tuesday, August 16, 2016

    Dog Hair Is the Bane of My Existence

    Swiffer Sweeper dry dusting cloths may very well be my sanity's saving grace.  With a German Shepherd and a "your guess is as good as mine" mutt, combatting dog hair is a daily struggle.

    This is Cleo.  This is what happens when she knows you are looking at her. She is 4 and an absolute spazz. She has very silky, fine fur that flies all over the place even just as she walks by (except her rear - which is floofy and has very thick fur that falls out in clumps).
    This is a better picture of Cleo.  She is distracted because she just stole Ariel's ball and Ariel is barking at her.
    She got her ball back. :)

    Happy sweeping and vacuuming to those of you who can commiserate!

    Sunday, August 14, 2016

    Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.4

    Last week’s roundup of products is a mix of skincare, body, makeup, and hair care!

    NARS Eye Makeup Remover – A high-performance, extremely mild makeup oil-free remover that removes all traces of eye and lip makeup, even waterproof and transfer-proof makeup, without having to rub. The result is a refreshing feeling with no oily residue left behind on the skin.

    Thoughts:  That last sentence of their description I don’t find to be true – it does indeed leave a greasy residue behind.  It also removes every last bit of eye makeup though so I’m willing to overlook it.  (I also always wash my face immediately after so it’s not much of an issue.)

    Coola Makeup Setting Spray A 70 percent certified organic SPF 30 spray that provides a weightless matte-finish while keeping makeup looking fresh all day.

    Thoughts: Dries instantly and doesn’t change the look or feel of my makeup.  I applied and then went to the zoo – no red!  This is a new makeup bag staple.

    Urban Decay Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer PotionThis revolutionary paraben-free formula features space-age polymer technology that fills in any imperfections on the skin’s surface, prepping your lids for all-day shadow.

    Thoughts:  I adore this shadow primer!  It applies smoothly and invisibly, and keeps my shadow crease free all day long.

    Aveeno Skin Relief Gentle Scent LotionThis lightly scented lotion soothes itchy, dry skin in just one day and is clinically shown to be as gentle to sensitive skin as fragrance free products. Formulated with ACTIVE NATURALS® Triple Oat Complex and a delightful Nourishing Coconut scent, it will leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and moisturized for a full 24 hours.

    Thoughts:  This smells really nice!  It’s very summery and coconutty but not in an overpowering perfumy way.  Relieves dry skin itchiness immediately – I don’t know about the full 24 hours but it definitely lasted a full work day.

    Number 4 Restore and Repair OilThis strand-saving elixir gives drab, dull hair a coveted movie star shine (plus a whole host of reparative benefits). Our oil-free days are officially over.

    Thoughts:  I’ve only used this sparingly on dry hair so far, but I really like it.  It smells lovely and works well to calm the “poof” and make my hair look smooth and shiny.

    Saturday, August 13, 2016

    So Choix August Samples

    My August So Choix samples have arrived!  This month they included a couple of extra sample packets.  That’s never happened before so I’m not sure if this is a one-time thing or something they’ll be doing regularly.  Regardless, I was excited to see them in there!

    So… what is So Choix?  Choix (pronounced “shwaa”) means “choice” in French.  Instead of filling out a questionnaire and crossing your fingers that you’ll get samples you’ll like, you get to pick the skincare and makeup samples (right down to specific shades)!  They allow you to shop one sample at a time or sign-up for a subscription and get 5 samples each month.

    So here’s what I chose this month –
    - Giorgio Armani Maestro UV Makeup Primer
    - Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water
    - Ellis Faas Creamy Eyes “Lilac Taupe”
    - Giorgio Armani Eye Tint “10 Senso”
    - Glamglow Flashmud Brightening Treatment
    - And then also pictured are the bonus samples of Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and Dior Capture Totale Multi-Perfection Eye Treatment.

    If you’d like to learn more about So Choix you can check out their FAQs or if you’d like to sign-up I’d be much obliged if you did so through my referral link!  Happy sampling!