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