Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June Allure Beauty Box

This month's box is themed "Glow Getters" and contains the following summer-worthy products:
  • Deco Miami Nail Lacquer in "Feeling Fuego"
  • John Frieda Frizz Ease Keraflex Hairspray
  • Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat Blur Primer
  • Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum
  • St. Tropez Self Tan Express Bronzing Face Sheet Mask
  • Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
I'm very happy with the samples in this box although I'm most excited about the YSL Primer and Tata Harper Mask! The only item I won't use is the bronzing sheet mask, and that's only because I'm not quite dumb (or brave) enough to try self-tanner on my face when I haven't even mastered using it on my legs yet LOL!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

An abundance of rhubarb in my and one of my good friends backyards meant it was time to get baking.  (It's good to have friends with gardens - she gave me a lot of rhubarb!)  First on my baking list is the super easy Rhubarb Pudding Cake.  With an ooey gooey not-to-sweet center and a crispy sugary crust, this recipe is sure to be a hit with kids and grown ups alike!

Here we have about 2 cups of chopped rhubarb spread across the bottom of a 9" square pan.

Next you'll spread the prepared batter evenly over the top of the fruit and follow that with a healthy (ok, not "healthy" per se...) sprinkling of sugar and cornstarch.

Now for the part that made me do a double-take the first time I saw this recipe:  Pour boiling water over the top.

"Did I read that correctly?"   Yes you did.  Yes it's very soupy looking.  Yes it will be ok.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes and you'll have this golden brown dessert that is both gooey and crispy.  It's best served hot straight out of the oven with some sweetened whipped cream, but isn't too shabby eaten cold straight out of the pan the next day either.  Not that I would know that personally. *cough*

Rhubarb Pudding Cake
2c rhubarb, chopped
1 3/4c sugar, divided
3T salted butter, melted and cooled
1t baking powder
1/2c milk
1t vanilla extract
1c all-purpose flour
1T cornstarch
2/3c boiling water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. 

Spread chopped rhubarb over the bottom of a 9" baking pan.

In a bowl, mix together 3/4c sugar, butter, baking powder, vanilla, milk, and flour.  Spread batter evenly over rhubarb.

Combine remaining 1c sugar and cornstarch and dprinkle over the batter.  Pour boiling water over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Target Beauty Box - June

Hello Sunshine!

Target's June Beauty Box is all about products that will keep you looking summer ready all month long!

  • John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Salt Spray
  • Masque Bar Soothing Sheet Mask
  • NYX Gotcha Covered Concealer in "Medium"
  • Aussie 3-Minute Miracle Mask Treatment
  • Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen
  • Schick Hydro Silk Women's Razor
  • Sinful Colors Nail Polish in "Island Coral"
Every single thing in this box is something I will use almost immediately - the NYX Concealer is definitely too dark for me to use as a concealer, but I think I will try a drop or two mixed with moisturizer and see if that works for some sheer coverage.  Other than that, every thing else is spot on!

Time to go get a pedicure with my new coral polish! :D

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Antique Cookbook - White House Cookbook

I first spotted the White House Cook Book a few years back at my favorite antique store.  Unfortunately it was priced outside of my budget, and in the years since I’d only come across copies that were either in terrible condition or priced unreasonably considering the condition.  Then just a couple of weeks ago I found a 1913 edition with the binding mostly intact, for the absolute steal of $17!  I was so excited to start paging through it that I nearly made myself car sick (people who can read in the car amaze me) and I was forced to wait until I arrived home.

Old timey recipes can be endlessly entertaining and occasionally even slightly horrifying.  The White House Cookbook, first published in 1887, has more than just a few gems.   Codfish Balls make an appearance alongside other delights such as Spiced Beef Tongue, Squirrel and Green Turtle Soups (with the option for egg balls for the latter), and Calf’s Head three ways (baked, boiled, or as a “cheese”.)

Fortunately, for every recipe most of couldn’t even imagine preparing yet alone eating, there are dozens of others that pertain to the modern day palate and cook (even if a few tweaks or experimental go-arounds need to made here and there.)  Take for instance that many recipes call for a “teacupful” of rice or raisins, a “coffeecupful” of molasses, or the amount of butter “half the size of an egg”.  How big was the standard teacup back then?  (I would guess ½ a cup with a coffee cup being closer to 1 whole cup.)  And measuring butter by the size of an egg?  That’s tricky because eggs now days are much larger than what chickens produced a century ago.

Antiques cook books also make one appreciate the modern day conveniences most of us take for granted.  When is the last time you appreciated not having to milk a cow to make butter?  Or not having to make a brine to preserve said butter?   Or that you didn’t have to collect warm rain water to make vinegar?  (That last one was a shock to me.  I had no idea!)

There are so many recipes in here that I haven’t the slightest idea which I’ll attempt to a make first.  Between musing about egg sizes and where I could find “brimstone the size of a bean” to make strawberry syrup, I’m just enjoying reading the book!

Friday, June 9, 2017

What I'm Reading: Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love

"Cheryl and Griffith Day, authors of the New York Times bestselling Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, are back with more recipes to make with love. Who needs store-bought when baking things at home is so gratifying? In this follow-up to their smash-hit first book, the Days share ways to lovingly craft not only desserts, but also breakfast pastries, breads, pizza, and condiments."
I own and love their first cookbook, (reviewed here ), so when their follow-up caught my eye at Barnes & Noble the other day I didn't hesitate to purchase it!  Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love is every bit as wonderful as it's predecessor and contains more than just the dessert recipes you'd expect.
There are savory dinner and side dishes like Beans and Corn Bread Cobbler, Tomato Pie, and Devilish Eggs.  There are both sweet and savory marmalades along with homemade syrups and butters, and also D.I.Y projects such as party hats and cake toppers.  But don't worry, there are plenty of the traditional recipes you'd expect from a bakery like breads, cakes, and brownies too!
I think the first recipe on my to-do list from this book will be the Honey White Bread because seriously, does anything smell better than fresh baked bread? Ok, maybe brownies - those smell amazing too!
(Honey White Bread is pictured below alongside Sweet Potato Pot Pie, Chocolate Honey Fudge, and the Sweet 16 Cake Topper.)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Allure and Birchbox - May

Both of these Beauty Boxes showed up in my mailbox on the same day last week.  I am so far behind on things I want to post about (new cookbook, a major antique cookbook score, and recipes) that I decided to combine both boxes into one post and shorten it up a bit!

  • Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30
  • Skinfix Foaming Clay Cleanser
  • This Works Stress Check Breath In Fragrance
  • Luxie Beauty Rose Gold Tapered Blending Eye Brush 205
  • Doucce Eyeshadow Mono in "Jody"
  • Kneipp Lavender Body Oil
I'm most excited about the Drunk Elephant sunscreen in this box.  I've been having an issue with facial sunscreen and eye irritation lately.  Even when I'm careful to keep it away from my eyes they will start to burn and water whenever I use SPF on my face. Not sure what's going there, but needless to say, I'm on the search for a new one because I am way too fair to go without sunscreen in the summer!

  • Davines MINU Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day In-Shower Styler
  • The Beauty Crop Fabulous Flocking Lashes Mascara
  • Tocca Giulietta Eau de Parfum
  • Vita Liberata Fabulous Self Tanning Gradual Lotion
Am I the only one who thinks it's fun that the Fabulous Flocking Mascara has a flock of flamingos on the package?! I'm going to assume "No"! :) And despite the fact that I have a laundry list of self-tanning fiascos under my belt, I'm still cautiously optimistic that I'll find one that doesn't turn me orange.  I will report back on my success or failure of the Vita Liberata in a future post!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Love It, Like It, or Lose It v.11

Time for another over due round of LLL!  I found a new love (that I wish was a bit less expensive), a couple of likes, and one product that I'd like to hurl back at the manufacturer on behalf of my youngest daughter.

Murad Hydro Dynamic Ultimate Moisture - "A luxurious, yet lightweight cream that provides 24-hour hydration to restore suppleness and visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles"

Thoughts:  I really, really like this moisturizer!  Hydrating enough for my dry skin without being heavy and no breakouts.  No visible reduction in my forehead lines but I don't think those qualify as "fine" at this point.

MAC Zoom Lash - "A mascara with a three-sided fiber brush that instantly volumizes and separates lashes."

Thoughts:  I was underwhelmed by this mascara.  Decent volume but not very lengthening.  A bit smudgy also.

Drybar Prep Rally - "A lightweight pre-styling spray formulated with biotin, vitamin B, and UV blockers to detangle, protect hair against heat, and refresh styles."

Thoughts:  Strongly scented and not in a nice "I wish they made this in a perfume" kind of way.  Lightly detangling.  Love the UV and heat protection.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence - " helps improve the appearance of the five dimensions of beautiful, crystal clear skin—reducing spots and the appearance of wrinkles, improving skin texture and firmness and elevating radiance."

Thoughts:  I've been hearing good things about this product for ages but the price has always kept me away and sent me in search of dupes instead.  Once I got my hands on a sample though I eagerly tried it. Holy buckets this stuff is amazing!  Makes my skin feel so hydrated and honestly seems to improve the results of my other skincare.

Eucerin Eczema Relief - "Helps protect and relieve dry skin irritation and itching due to eczema."

Thoughts:  How this made it out of the lab I will never know.  This caused my daughter's dry itchy skin to to burn and turn bright red.  She looked and felt so much worse.  Definitely do not recommend for sensitive eczema prone skin.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Target Beauty Box - May

Target's Beauty Box for this month is focused on renewal and is filled with products to help you feel pampered and refreshed!  Shockingly, this box is still available (at the time of this writing) and you can snag one here.  These typically sell out the same day so I don't know if they stocked more or what!

  • Nexxus Caviar Complex Shampoo & Conditioner
  • Acure Pore Minimizing Red Clay Mask
  • Nubian Heritage Coconut & Papaya Bath Bombs
  • Wet n Wild MegaLast Liquid Lipstick in "Nice to Fuschia"
  • Vichy Pore Purifying Clay Mask
  • Nexxus Vitall 8-in-1 Masque
  • Guess Dare Fragrance for Women
  • Soap & Glory Flake Away Body Polish
Bath bombs, body scrub, and face and hair masks all in one box!  This is a recipe for a perfect at-home spa night!  If only Target had sent a bottle of Cabernet along as well...  :D

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wal-Mart Spring 2017 "Me Moment" Beauty Box

Remember the special edition "Me Moment" beauty box I mentioned that I had opted into in place of my Trendsetter box last month?  It finally arrived late last week!

  • Colgate Optic White Toothpaste
  • Ban Powder Fresh Roll-On Deodorant
  • Soapbox Soothe & Replenish Body Wash
  • Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer
  • Gliss Ultra Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner
  • John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisturizing Conditioner
  • Sinful Colours Limited Edition Porcelain Matte Nail Color in "Mad Matter"
  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lip Shine in "50 Radiant Rose"
  • SOO AE Purifying Black Charcoal Sheet Mask
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant 60 Second In-Shower Facial (sample packet)
  • Aveeno Positively Radiant Overnight Hydrating Facial (sample packet)
  • Rimmel Stay Matte Lightweight Liquid Mousse Foundation in 200 (sample packet)

  • For a measly $5, I will never complain about the contents of Wal-Mart's beauty boxes, but I was a little disappointed to see so many duplicates from the Classic box I received earlier.  5 of them in fact.  The duplicates were the toothpaste, deodorant, body wash, and the splotch inducing* wet skin moisturizer.  I also received another Gliss shampoo and conditioner set albeit in a different formula so I'm not sure than counts entirely or not.

    Out of the new items I received I'm most excited about the sheet mask and the Aveeno facial packets.  My daughter and I have declared Wednesday and Sunday evenings as "mask nights" so I've really been able to work through my stash of skincare lately!

    I'm also pretty excited about the new LE Porcelain Matte nail polish from Sinful Colours as I don't own any matte finishes and I love neutral shades like "Mad Matter".   As for the last two items, I may pass the Frizz Ease conditioner on to my curly haired daughter since she deals with frizz more than I do, but the lip gloss is going straight into my bag since it's a very wearable rose!

    Once again, a stellar box - few new items I'm excited to try and several staple items for only $5!

    *I received the Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer in a previous beauty box.  Absolutely no “natural glow” is to be found with this product and I've tested it 3x now.  Varying splotches of yellow, orange, and brown are be found instead.  My legs end up resembling those of a short, splotchy giraffe no matter what I try

    Friday, April 28, 2017

    April Allure Beauty Box

    The theme for this month's box is "Shine On" and fittingly contains products to give you radiant and glowing complexion. According to the editor this box has got you covered whether you're celebrating a happy moment or just figuring out how to get through Tuesday!

    • Ahava Mineral Body Lotion
    • Dr. Brandt PoreDermabrasion Pore Perfecting Exfoliator
    • Skin & Co roma Truffle Therapy Eye Concentrate
    • The BrowGal by Tonya Crooks Highlighter Pencil in O2
    • Laritzy Lip Pencil in Cabernet
    This box was both a hit and (somewhat) of a miss for me which is pretty unusual for my favorite beauty box!  I'm happy with both of the skincare items as well as the body lotion, but unfortunately both of the cosmetics (each are full-size!) were a bit of a miss due to the shades I received.

    As for skincare, Dr. Brandt's Microdermabrasion is one of my favorite exfoliators so I have no doubt that I'll love this PoreDermabrasion also.  I'm always more than happy to test out a new eye cream too.  Even though I'm just starting to see fine lines around my eyes I'd like to keep them from worsening for as long as possible and  Skin&Co Roma Truffle Therapy Eye Concentrate gets great reviews.

    As far as bath and body goes, I have a couple of Ahava products in my shower currently so their Mineral Body Lotion will fit right in with my daily routine.  It is said to have a clean floral scent so it should pair nicely with many of my spring/summer fragrances.
    And onto the makeup... 

    The Highlighter Pencil from The BrowGal by Tonya Crooks is a product that's right up my alley!  One side conceals rogue hairs between appointments while the other side highlights.  Unfortunately, I received shade 02 which is too dark for my fair and pinky-toned skin.  At only $20 and free shipping on their site though, I may go ahead and order the lighter 01 myself!

    Lastly, I received a Laritzy Lip Pencil in "Cabernet".   As the name would imply, it is a deep and rich red.  I love Cabernet in the form of wine but red lip color just never seems to work for me.  Most of the shades on their site are sold-out so I may try and blot this down like I do any other too-dark lip color and wear it as a muted lip stain.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    April Birchbox

    "Pretty beauty packaging might have us at "hello," but in the long run it's what's on the inside that matters the most."

    The above is quoted from the card that accompanied the items in my box and that's the focus this month - what's inside.  Vitamin C, charcoal, salicylic acid... all ingredients inside this month's products because Birchbox knows we all like to look good on the outside too and that's what those ingredients do!
    • Benefit Cosmetics the POREfessional Primer
    • Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner
    • Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant
    • R+Co High Dive Moisture & Shine Creme
    • The Beauty Crop GRLPWR Liquid Lipstick in Imma Bawse
    Benefit POREfessional is my daughter's favorite primer so that will be going directly to her along with the Michael Todd Toner.  The Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner is described as being gentle but still able to rid skin of oil and impurities.  Sounds perfect for sensitive and acne prone skin!

    The Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant from Paula's Choice has been on my "to-try" list for awhile now.  I've heard great things about it's ability to fight wrinkles and acne while leaving skin baby smooth besides, so I'm excited to try it for sure!  Then, R+Co High Dive is a product that doubles as a leave-in conditioner and a pre-styling frizz fighter, so I'm certainly looking forward to testing that on my long frizzy locks.

    While the GRLPWR Liquid Lipstick from The Beauty Crop sounds amazing, (it's supposedly long-wearing, matte, and moisturizing,) I unfortunately received a color I just will not wear.  "Imma Bawse" is a very deep and rich red that is too bold for my taste and not very flattering to my coloring either.  I'm sure one of my friends will love it though, so it'll be set aside for one of them to snag at our next get together.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2017

    Graze Box Review

    I've been subscribing to Graze for a couple of years now.  I have no idea why it took me so long to write a post about it.  I love it!  I've subscribed to a couple of other snack boxes over the years but this is the only one I've stuck with.

    Graze Snack Box allows you to decide how often you want to receive a box, from weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.  They also allow you to rate the snacks you receive and customize your boxes.  If you tag something as a "Love" you'll receive it fairly frequently.  If you "trash" it you'll never receive it again.  They make it easy to do too.  As you can see from the screenshot below, I "trashed" Banana Cream Pie.  I do not like their chewy banana coins.  At all.  So I sorted the snacks by category on their site, scrolled through all the fruit, and trashed everything with banana coins.

    A booklet with nutritional information is included with every order so it's easy to avoid certain allergens and/or stay on track with calories or carbs.  You can even order boxes specific to diet plans by choosing low-sugar or low-calorie (under 150 calories) snack boxes.
    If a snack subscription box is something you might be interested in you can check it out here - https://www.graze.com/us/.  If you'd like to get your first and fifth box free you can enter my referral code below and help me earn free snacks too!  Happy snacking!


    Tuesday, April 11, 2017

    Target Beauty Box - April

    This month Target again offered 2 different Beauty Boxes, but I chose only the one titled "April Naturals".  This box contains products with all-natural ingredients and has a range of items I can split between myself and my eldest daughter.
  • Juice Organics Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Burt's Bees White Tea Extract Facial Cleansing Towelettes
  • Hello Extra Whitening Pure Mint Fluoride Toothpaste
  • Yes to Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask
  • ACURE Pore Clarifying Red Clay Scrub
  • Raw Sugar Lemon Sugar Body Wash
  • Shea Moisture Kukui Nut Facial Cream Cleanser and Face & Neck Cream (sample packets)

  • I love having facial cleansing wipes around for nights I'm too tired or lazy to go through my normal PM skincare routine, and I adore lemon anything, so I'd have to say the towelettes and body wash are my favorites so far!  My daughter is dealing with oily and acne prone teenage skin so I'll be passing off the mask and scrub to her, and the remaining items will be going in the travel bag for our next trip!
    Target's Beauty Boxes are always a great value and I love that you get to see the contents before you purchase.  Hopefully I'm quick enough again next month to snag another one!

    Wednesday, April 5, 2017

    Wal-Mart Spring 2017 Beauty Box - Classic

    My Spring "Classic" Beauty Box arrived last week!  Typically I receive both of my Wal-Mart Beauty Boxes within a day or so of each other, but I'm still waiting on the second one so I figured I'd go ahead and post.  A couple of weeks back I received an email from Wal-Mart asking me if I wanted to opt-in to a special edition "Me Moment" Beauty Box in place of my Trendsetter, (I did), and I'm thinking that is why the normal scheduling is off.  Hopefully they won't keep me waiting too long!
    My "Classic" Box contained:
    • Colgate Optic White Toothpaste
    • Ban Roll-On Deodorant
    • Schwarzkopf Gliss Hair Repair Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Soapbox Soothe & Replenish Body Wash
    • Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer
    • Pure Ice Nail Polish in "Hautumn"
    • SOO AE Vitamin Collagen Essence Mask
    I'm most excited about the sheet mask and toothpaste!  The sheet mask because it's a brightening version (dull and dry skin here), and the toothpaste because well... toothpaste.

    Deodorant is another item I always love receiving.  It's been ages since I've used a roll-on deodorant and I don't have pleasant memories of the last one I tried, but I'm cautiously optimistic about this one.  According to the packaging, Ban protects for a solid 24 hours and glides on clear with no messy white residue.   Hopefully that last part means no more walking around fanning my under arms while pleading with it to go ahead and dry already!

    As always, this Beauty Box is a major steal for $5 and I can't even complain about the Jergens* because of it!  The contents are always a "win" even if one is actually a major miss!

    *Side note - I received the Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer in a previous beauty box and set about testing it immediately.  Absolutely no "natural glow" was to be found.  Varying splotches of yellow, orange, and brown were to be found instead.  My legs resembled those of a short, splotchy giraffe. Thank goodness it's still cool out and pants are in order!

    Saturday, April 1, 2017

    Love It, Like It, or Lose It v. 10

    It's been awhile since I've done one of these!  It certainly hasn't been for my lack of testing out new products either.  Between work, kids, sports, old dogs with ailments... you know life in general... sometimes I lose track of what I'm doing.  (But we could all write an entire post on that couldn't we!?)

    This product testing round, I came across a "new" product that was actually new to me 2 years ago.  I didn't like it then, I don't like it now, and I didn't realize it until I got online to write a review and saw that I'd already written one!  (Clinique Superprimer in case you're wondering.)  That is precisely why I write these posts - to keep track!

    Coola Daydream Mineral Primer SPF 30 - "A weightless, multitasking primer for flawless makeup, infused with Coola’s signature Plant Protection® and a mineral broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen to protect the skin."

    Thoughts:  I was pleasantly surprised by this product!  I expected a mineral primer with SPF to be thick and chalky but this isn't at all.  It feels almost serum like during application and does a decent job of blurring pores.  Seems best for oily to normal skin types.

    Clinque Superprimer - "Lightweight, oil-free primer creates an ideal makeup canvas."

    Thoughts:  The above description is literally all it does.  Helps my skin feel a bit smoother but it doesn't do anything for pores, fine lines, or foundation longevity.  On my 3rd use I put it on only half my face - I could feel a slight difference in application (easier to blend on the one side) but I couldn't see any difference in the way my foundation looked. When I checked again hours later I still couldn't see any difference.  I definitely prefer a multi-tasking primer.

    MAC In Extreme Dimension 3D Mascara - "A carbon black mascara with a large molded brush that creates extreme volume and curl."

    Thoughts -  This does give a bit of curl but I found it pretty lacking otherwise.  2 coats was absolutely necessary for volume and length.  Didn't smudge.

    Bumble and Bumble Hairdressers Invisible Oil Primer - "Infused with 6 featherlight oils it helps soften, detangle, de-frizz, tame flyaways, ease styling and protect against breakage, heat-styling and UV damage."

    Thoughts -   I saw a noticeable reduction in frizziness when using this prior to blow drying and flat ironing.  Love the UV protection for my colored hair!  It's ok as a detangler after showering.

    L'Oreal Color Vibrancy Shampoo and Conditioner - "Instantly nourishes and helps shield color from fading, leaving hair protected and color vibrant over time. Experience 8 weeks of vibrant color*"

    Thoughts - I wasn't a huge fan of the shampoo - it smelled nice and did well removing buildup but it left my hair feeling straw-like.  I really liked the conditioner though and found it to be very moisturizing.  It also left my hair nearly tangle free.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    March Allure Beauty Box

    I'm excited to say that March's Allure Beauty Box arrived yesterday!  It contains one product I'm familiar with (and love), two new to me brands, and a bonus sample of deodorant. (And who doesn't need a travel size of that for their gym bag?!?

    • Akar Skin Ruby Tint Lip Butter
    • Derma E Vitamin C Concentrated Serum
    • John Freida Luxurious Volume 7 Day Volume In-Shower Treatment
    • Londontown Lakur Enhanced Color in "Cheerio"
    • Londontown Kur Nourishing Cuticle Oil
    • *bonus* Secret Invisible Solid Antiperspirant/deodorant in "Cool Waterlily"
    I've never heard of the brand Londontown before, but being the product junkie that I am, I'm always happy to welcome a new brand into my home!  According the beauty editors at Allure, the Lakur Enhanced Colour polish  will give me opaque coverage in two coats and a gel-like finish in three.  (Bonus for those who avoid animal products - it's vegan!)  The Kur Nourishing Cuticle Oil will supposedly extend the wear of my nail polish while it's strengthening and improving my nails.  If your nails chip as quickly as mine do then that's a major selling point!  Whether I'll be impressed or disappointed remains to be seen!

    The other new to me brand is Akar Skin.  I received a pocket friendly little tub of their Ruby Tint Lip Butter and couldn't wait to try it!  The color is gorgeous (I dare say it may be my new MLBB lip gloss) and it isn't heavily scented. 

    This is the third time that I've received 7 Day Volume from a subscription box!  I suppose it's bound to happen when one subscribes to several boxes.  Fortunately, I happen to really enjoy this product and don't mind getting it again in the least!  Speaking of repeats, Derma E is a brand I come across fairly often in my subscriptions.  I find their products to be good quality overall and extremely well priced, so I'm kind of surprised I don't hear about them more often.  Their  Vitamin C Concentrated Serum looks to be no exception to their typical good quality and contains hyaluronic acid to moisturize while it brightens.

    Thursday, March 16, 2017

    Brown Sugar Banana Bread

    The quickly over ripening bananas on my kitchen counter recently dictated that I needed to make banana bread.  Instead of using one of my go-to banana recipes, like whole wheat banana bread or banana snack cake, I decided to bust out one of my many cookbooks and test out a new recipe.

    I remembered there being a couple of banana themed baked goods in The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook so I grabbed that one.   It didn't disappoint!  For a moment I was nearly swayed by the cupcakes but decided to go with a breakfast friendly item instead.  (Side note:  I totally support eating cake for breakfast.  Don't tell my kids I said that.)

    The recipe turned out beautifully!  Waiting for it to cool a bit before slicing into it when your kitchen smells that good is its own form of torture!  Moist and not overly sweet, this bread is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of milk at breakfast or with a cup of afternoon tea .

    Brown Sugar Banana Bread
    2c all-purpose flour
    3/4c light brown sugar
    3/4t baking soda
    1 1/2t cake spice*
    3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
    1/4c sour cream
    2 large eggs
    6T unsalted butter, softened
    1t vanilla extract
    1/2c mini chocolate chips (optional)
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly spray a 9x5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
    In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cake spice, and mini chocolate chips if using.
    Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand, mix the mashed bananas, sour cream, eggs, softened butter, and vanilla until thoroughly combined.  By hand, gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just combined.  Do not over mix.
    Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread it evenly.  Bake 50-55 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown, and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Allow bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
    *Cake Spice is cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, and cloves.  If unavailable, simply substitute 1/2-1t cinnamon.
    Recipe lightly adapted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook

    Monday, March 13, 2017

    March Birchbox

    This month's theme is "Pretty Mighty" and contains "powerful, high-performance products for equally powerful women."

    • Bioderma Hydrabio H20
    • Cargo Swimmables Water Resistant Bronzer - Medium
    • Coastal Scents Revealed Smoky Eye Shadow
    • Kiehl's Super Multi-Corrective Cream
    • PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Touchable Curl Cream
    One of the things I love about beauty boxes is that even if a product isn't something I'll use, there is nearly a 100% chance that I know someone who will!  In this case, that product is the Touchable Curl Cream.  I do not have curly hair, but my oldest daughter does, and I'm sure she'll love the serum like frizz fighter!
    I'm a little concerned that Cargo's Bronzer will be too dark for me to use as a bronzer since I'm so fair.  I'll try it with a light hand and a fan brush and see what happens!  If nothing else I can always use it as an eye shadow (bronze is very flattering to blue eyes after all) - it may even work with the 2 shades I received in my Coastal Scents mini palette.

    I really liked the sensitive version of Bioderma's Micelle Solution that I tried previously so I'm willing to bet I'll like this hydrating version even more.  My skin seems to have made the switch from "combination dry" to plain old "dry" so I use anything hydrating I can get my hands on.  Speaking of hydrating... there's hyaluronic acid in the Super Multi-Corrective Cream from Kiehl's! Fingers crossed it doesn't make me break out! (I am apparently cursed because though my skin is showing signs of aging and is as dry as a desert, I still get product related pimples. Blech.)

    Friday, March 10, 2017

    Antique Cookbook - Any One Can Bake

    I adore browsing antique stores and often spend an entire Saturday or Sunday doing just that.  You just never know what you're going to find!  I snagged an addition to my antique cookbook collection over the past weekend for a mere $1.25 - that's less than the cover price in 1929!

    Any One Can Bake was published by the Royal Baking Powder Co. and contains dozens of recipes for breads, cakes, and cookies along with helpful tips for the "young housewife," and detailed instructions on how to properly set a table.  I'm always highly amused and occasionally slightly horrified when reading cookbooks prior to or from the early 20th century.  For instance, did you know that doilies are appropriate for any meal with the exception of a formal dinner?  I did not, but as I don't own any doilies I don't see this being a concern any time soon.  Then there was the recommendation to use asbestos pads to protect your good furniture from hot dishes.  Yikes!

    Of course, the main appeal of antique cookbooks are the recipes.  This one being a baking book, most of the recipes are classic and straight-forward with around 8 ingredients and simple instructions.  With the exception of rose water, (which was popular before vanilla took over and is called for in many cakes), the recipes often only call for basic ingredients likely already stocked in the pantry.
    Many of the recipes have step-by-step instructions -

    Others are simply accompanied by colorful illustrations -

    A couple of recipes that immediately caught my eye are Blueberry Tea Cake and Butterscotch Pie.  (Codfish Balls also caught my attention but not for the same reason lol!)  Since blueberries aren't in season yet I think the Butterscotch Pie will be first.  Hopefully it's a success and I can report back with the recipe and pictures!

    Saturday, March 4, 2017

    Target Beauty Box - March

    As soon as I heard that Target's latest Beauty Box contained a supposed dupe for SK-II Facial Treatment Essence I knew I had to have it!  One peek at the other contents and I was doubly sold.  This month they only offered one box and it was $7.
    • MISSHA Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
    • Soapbox Bamboo Shampoo and Conditioner
    • Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer
    • Dove Volume & Fullness Dry Shampoo
    • Neautrogena Hydro Boost Lip Shine in "50 Radiant Rose"
    • Skinfix Foaming Oil Cleanser
    I already mentioned that I'm excited to try the essence by MISSHA but I'm equally excited about getting another dry shampoo and a self-tanner I haven't tried before.  I really don't need any more deluxe samples but travel-size shampoos, facial wash, and mini lipglosses are always welcome anyway!

    Thursday, March 2, 2017

    Simple Slow Cooker Beef Tips

    This is a recipe that I first came across on my Pinterest feed.  I don't recall whom among my friends or family pinned it but I owe them a cookie.  This is quick and easy to throw together and there's a good chance you already have the ingredients on hand!  I've made this a few times now and it's one of my husband's favorites!
    All you do is -
    Heat about 1T of oil in a large pan or the stove top safe insert of your slow cooker.  Add the stew meat and brown until the meat is all nice and carmelized on the outside.  Remove the insert to back to the base or pour the meat and juices into your slow cooker at this point.

    Browning first for better flavor!
    Mix together your remaining ingredients, pour over the meat, and turn your slow cooker to low.

    Pamtry staples are all in order
    Carry on with your daily business and 8 hours later you'll have tender beef tips in gravy that are ready to be served over potatoes or noodles!

    Served with crusty bread and a vegetable my kids will eat!

    Simple Slow Cooker Beef Tips
    2lb beef stew meat
    1 pkg  dry onion soup mix
    1 pkg reduced sodium brown gravy mix*
    1 10.5oz can cream of mushroom soup
    1c water
    1T oil
    Pepper to taste

    1 – Brown the beef stew meat in the oil and season with pepper.

    2 – Mix the Cream of Mushroom, Onion Soup, Gravy mix, and water in a large bowl.

    3 – Pour over the stew meat and stir to combine.

    4 – Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

    Notes:  If crunched for time you can skip browning the meat beforehand.  Omit the oil.

    *This is a salt heavy recipe which is why I recommend reduced sodium gravy mix.  I have also used Heart Healthy Cream of Mushroom soup in addition to the reduced sodium brown gravy mix to even further reduce the sodium - it was still great!

    Lightly adapted from Just a Pinch Recipes

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    February Birchbox

    The latest Birchbox showed up in my mailbox a couple of days ago and contained the following:
    • Balance Me Congested Skin Serum
    • Davines SU Hair & Body Wash
    • Dr. Jart+ Premium Beauty Balm SPF 45+
    • Juliette Has a Gun "Not a Perfume"
    • LAQA & Co. Avo Lip Butter in "Ninza"
    Since the Avo Lip Butter is, well, called a butter, I was thinking it was going to be pretty sheer.  I was wrong.  This is a full-coverage lipstick!  Applied straight outta the tube this deep berry shade is way too dark for my liking, however after heavily blotting with a tissue it made for a beautiful berry pink lip stain.  The other makeup item I received was a BB Cream from Dr. Jart+ in shade "01 Light-Medium".  Here's to hoping Dr. Jart+ comes out with a shade "00 Fair" or something because I found "01" to be a bit too dark unfortunately.

    Juliette Has a Gun "Not a Perfume" is definitely intriguing.  It contains only a single note: Cetalox.   It is very unobtrusive and ideal for those who are sensitive to fragrance.  I find it pleasant enough but as I prefer fragrance with a bit more "oomph" (like gourmand or woody scents) this one won't be a purchase for me.

    I'm definitely looking forward to using Davine's SU Hair & Body Wash this summer!  It's supposed to prevent and treat hair damage from the sun and also soothe sun irritated skin, so it's certainly something this fair skinned girl will be reaching for.  I don't get breakouts often anymore (knock on wood), but they do still happen so I'll be reaching for the Congested Skin Serum from Balance Me as soon as one does.

    Overall a great box with lots of new-to-me products and a $10 off promo code!

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    February Allure Beauty Box

    I know I've raved about the Allure Beauty Box before (probably several times actually) but I just can't help it.  It's my favorite for good reason!  This month's box contains 2 full-size products (with a combined value of nearly $60), a beautiful smelling candle, and skincare to make you glow!

    As far as the skincare goes, I have already tried and loved First Aid Beauty's Facial Radiance Pads.  They instantly remove dry and flaky skin without any irritation and are a major last minute rescue.  I also received Olay Eyes Pro-Retinol Eye Treatment to reduce the appearance of the lines and wrinkles I'm really starting to notice.  (Eek!  Let's nip these in bud shall we?)

    The full-size cosmetics I received are the Cargo Colorstick in "Champagne" and Beautycounter Lengthening Mascara.  Can't wait to see how the Cargo stacks up against my current favorite highlighter, Watt's Up by Benefit!  And I know I've mentioned I have what may be the world's shortest lashes so I'm happy to put this lengthening mascara to the test too.  Also included was a deluxe sample of GrandeLips Hydrating Lip Plumper. I was blessed with full lips so I personally have no need for this, but I have several friends who are always on the lookout for great new lip plumpers, so I'll be gifting this to one of them! 

    Last but certainly not least, my nose was greeted with the scent of roses the second I opened the box.  A tea light sized Red Flower Moroccan Rose Candle was inside!  I used to use their body oil all the time and this little candle smells just as lovely!

    Saturday, February 4, 2017

    What I'm Reading: French Country Cooking

    While browsing the New Release section the other day, French Country Cooking:  Meals and Moments from a Village in the Vineyards caught my eye.


    "Amid Mrs. Thorisson's recipes are stories of the home's past, as told to her by previous owners and village old-timers.  Readers will learn tales of multiple generations of cooks together in the French country kitchen."  Wall Street Journal
    I'm only about a quarter of the way into this book and so far I'm in love...  with the author's house!  In the first few pages she describes the home, its history, the antiques she found hidden away, and... cue jealousy!  It's my dream to live in a huge old house and to spend my days hunting for antiques to fill it with.  But I digress...

    I'm also loving the recipes of course!  It was my unfamiliarity of French cooking that caused me to grab this book off the shelf in the first place.  Each recipe is preceded by a story or some history (which I love) and many of the recipes are familiar and more simple than I expected.  Note that I said "many of the recipes".  Not all.  Take Everyday Pear Cake for example.  Both familiar and simple.  Far Breton?  Simple but not familiar.  (It's a custard cake with rum and prunes.)  Cassoulet?  Sounds familiar but definitely not simple.  (Do the French typically have goose fat on hand?)

    The photography is beautiful:

    Everyday Pear Cake
    Comte, Ham, and Walnut Feuillite
    Pain D'Epices
    I intend to read through the rest of the recipes and then settle on a couple of the unfamiliar but simple ones to test out first!  Happy cooking!

    Saturday, January 28, 2017

    January Allure Beauty Box

    Allure proves once again why they are my favorite beauty box and consistently the best valued.  This month's box contains 2 full-sized products along with other products I'm over the moon for too!

    The full-sized products are a Doucce Freematic Eye Shadow Palette with shimmery plum, matte black, pearly white, and slate gray shades, and a Burt's Bees Lipstick in "Blush Basin" which is a very neural and wearable shade described as "rosy-nude".
    Next up are two products I have already tried and liked!  I received dry shampoo (which is a major hair care staple of mine) from Oscar Blandi and Dr. Brandt's Microdermabrasion to help me deal with my dry and flaky winter skin.
    Finally, who doesn't love face masks and new makeup brushes?!  I received a sheet mask from BioBelle in #Beautyscoop which is their hydrating and line-reducing mask, and a travel-size Sigma E70 Medium Angled Shading Brush.
    Absolutely love!

    Thursday, January 26, 2017

    January Birchbox

    January's Birchbox theme is "New Year New Perspective" and is described as being full of products that will make you "feel like the greatest version of your (already great) self." Let's see what what we've got! :D

    • ARROW Endure Water-Resistant Mascara
    • Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo
    • NUXE Moisturizer Cream Crème Fraiche de Beaute
    • PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing & Repairing Shampoo (plus bonus sample packet of conditioner)
    • Sunday Riley Good Genes All-in-One Lactic Acid Treatment
    • ORIGINS GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream (bonus sample packet)
    The things I'm most excited about are the Living Proof Dry Shampoo (I believe I've discussed my serious love dry shampoo previously.  Several times probably.) and the Sunday Riley Lactic Acid Treatment.  The Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment gets rave reviews from people with problematic skin so I'm hoping it does something, anything, for the cyst I've got on my chin right now!

    Described as being a drink of water for the skin, the NUXE Moisturizer Cream will be the first thing I slather on tomorrow morning!  Lately I have just been a dry and flaky mess.  My face feels like it's going to crack and even my scalp is getting in on the dry and flaky action.  I guess I should count myself lucky to have received the Parlor Shampoo  since it's sulfate-free and thus not as moisture stripping as traditional shampoo.

    Last but not least is the ARROW Mascara.  It's vegan!  I don't typically seek out vegan products but I appreciate them and will happily add them to my routine when the opportunity arises.  It's also water-resistant which means I can be my sappy self and tear up while watching tv, reading, scrolling through Pinterest...  and not end up looking like a raccoon!