Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sargento String Cheese

I like cheese as a snack. I remember when we were kids these little individually wrapped nuggets of cheese that were quite yummy (I think they may have been called Nips, but I'm not sure). They seem to have disappeared and now it seems the cheese snack du jour is string cheese.

Truthfully, I've never been a huge fan. I find most brands of string cheese to have a rubbery texture. But when Influenster invited me to try Sargento cheese for free, I figured I didn't have anything to lose so I'd give them a try. My local grocery store carries a few varieties of Sargento snack cheeses, I went with Light String Cheese.

The packaging is standard string cheese wrapping. Influenster sent along this nifty little cold case to carry your string cheese on the go. Even when I forgot to put my snack in the fridge at work, it stayed pretty cool in the case.

The cheese is really quite good. There's none of that icky rubbery texture. It is a nice, creamy but firm cheese. The flavor is relatively mild and not overly salty. The nutrition isn't too bad for a snack..50 calories per piece (25 from fat, 1.5g saturated fat/0 trans fat). I would definitely repurchase this cheese.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September Ipsy bag

Time for my September Ipsy bag. This months goodies came in a really pretty blue case. The last few cases have been the same style, just different fabrics. They are really nice quality and a good size. I like this nylon style bag better than some of the previous bags they used.

Inside was another terrific batch of beauty products.

First up is a Cailyn lip balm in Big Apple, a bright red. I received a Cailyn gel eyeliner in a previous Ipsy bag. While the eyeliner is quite nice, I hate the packaging. I see the point, the long cap is actually a brush to apply the product. So your brush is always at hand. But it takes up too much room and I never reach for it. I know right off the bat I won't use this lip gloss either. I hate applying lip products with a brush. As often as I reapply my lip products and as clunky as this packing is, I won't carry it with me. And I don't wear red. Three strikes, it's out. (full size)

Next is a trio of Freeman sheet masks. These I'm definitely going to try. I love being able to do a face mask without the mess clay masks have. My set included a hydrating (perfect timing with cool weather on the way), purifying (I don't have trouble with oil/acne so may put this right in the donate bag), and brightening (after a summer of limited sun exposure, I can use a brightening treatment for the evil age spots!) Freeman is generally not a brand I purchase because their products are pretty chemical heavy, but these don't look too terrible ingredient wise. I'll certainly give the samples a try. (full size)

A Starlooks eyeliner in Obsidian. I certainly don't need yet another black eyeliner pencil but I'm interested to try Starlooks (have heard they are a decent dupe of MAC). On the fence as to whether or not I'll open this or donate it. (full size)

Elizabeth Mott It's So Big mascara. Never heard of this brand. The info says this is a smudgeproof volumizing mascara. I can always use mascara so I'll give it a try. (deluxe sample size)

Last up NYX eye shadow in Pure Gold. I like NYX in general and this is a really pretty color for fall. (full size)

Another pretty good month for Ipsy. 4 of the 5 products were full size so definitely a good value. That being said, this is my last Ipsy box. At least for now. My interest in natural cosmetics has been rekindled and I've decided to switch to the All Natural Face subscription box for a bit (they are in the middle of upgrading their website and I don't see the link at the moment. Hopefully it's not discontinued!) I do still highly recommend Ipsy if you are looking to try beauty/skincare samples. Their service is the best I've run across so far.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer 2013 perfumes

Fall starts tomorrow and cooler weather is already starting to grace us. As always, I'm anxious to pull out my cool weather fragrances. But before I pack away my warm weather scents, I thought I'd revisit what I reached for most this summer.

My perfume buying has slowed down dramatically this year as I have come across some scents that are real keepers. Ones that I can wear day after day without getting bored. While my collection is still pretty large (my summer scent shelf around 36 bottles/decants) I found myself repeatedly reaching for these six...

Dolcelisir by L'erbolario. This was a new purchase and is insanely wonderful. It smells a bit like apple cobbler but the most amazing, totally out of this world apple cobbler you could ever imagine. This one will be a year-rounder.

Burberry Brit Summer. I picked up both Brit Summer and a rollerball of Brit Sheer hoping to find a more hot weather friendly version of the original. Summer fit the bill. You get the lime/almond of the original, for sure, but this is lighter and fresher. I wore this one a ton, especially to work. It is totally non-offensive.

Avon/Mark Marrakesh. A lot of Avon's scents are average, run of the mill, dime a dozen variety scents, so I've kind of gotten away from purchasing them (and NEVER at full price. Ebay is your friend here!) Marrakesh I bought solely for the bottle. What a stunner! I held little hope for the juice. Even a whiff from the bottle didn't convince me. Straight up jasmine and coconut, neither of which are up my alley. But after wearing it a time or two, I found I really loved it. It is unique from anything else I own, so it's a nice change of pace. Only works for me on a really hot day, though. Dark horse winner of the summer.

The last three were all in my collection and (I think) might have made last summer's list. I made a point not to re-read last year's post because I wanted to keep this one fresh.

Lucy B Royal Egyptian Amber & Honeysuckle. Sweet, sweet, sweet. It makes your teeth hurt just smelling it. But it is yummy on the skin. A light amber that does very well in hot weather. Love this one for night time.

Tommy Girl. Still my favorite rose perfume. Super girly, insane longevity. Keeper, year-rounder.

Burberry Weekend. Going on year 3 for this bottle and still adore it. Another one I prefer for really hot days. Spring/summer only, I think, because it smells so much of hyacinths.

Honorable mention (not shown)...a new perfume house I discovered this summer, Imaginary Authors. I tried 4 of the 7 scents: Cobra & Canary, The Soft Lawn, Falling into the Sea and Memoirs of a Trespasser. All were excellent. C&C as too masculine for me, but the rest were all contenders. I wore Soft Lawn quite a bit but I ended up buying a bottle of Memoirs. Look forward to this in heavy rotation for fall!

Now I'm off to pack up the summer scents and dig out the falls. Let the party begin!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The All Natural Face box

I recently discovered a mineral makeup company called The All Natural Face. They carry a wide range of mineral foundations (both powder AND cream format), loose pigment eye shadows/blushes/powders, skin care, body care, and much more. Samples are dirt cheap. You can get a sample set of all of their foundation colors in your range (light or dark) for $6 (I'm currently testing the light shades). Eye shadow samples are $.35! I'm loving their shimmer shades, not so fond of the mattes.

When I heard they offer a monthly sample box I knew I had to try it. The box is $15/month and includes over $20 of products and free shipping. You can sign up on a recurring basis or for just one month to give it a try. This is what I did and my first box arrived this week. Here's what I got...
A sample pack of powder foundations with a mini kabuki brush. The brush is trash, but I know I'll use all of the foundation colors. The great thing about these powders, I find, is that they are very forgiving and many of the colors work well with my skin tone.

Glow in Champagne Rose: an all over or blush powder

Blush in Dusty Rose

2 eye shadows: Just Peachy and Brandied Peaches

Dark Brown Diva Stick. This is an eye shadow crayon that could be used as an eyeliner (according to their website).

Dead Sea Salt & Coconut Milk Scrub. This is a powdered scrub that you just add water to and mix as needed. I love this type of product!

Body Butter in Peppermint. This is melted right now do to the hot weather we are having, but I imagine it will be lovely in a few weeks when it starts getting cool and my skin starts drying out again.

I'm excited to use all of the goods I got in my box. Not sure if I'll go on a full time subscription or not. Since the value is not all that much greater than buying the products ala carte, I might just prefer ordering colors and items I know I'll use. If you are interested in checking out the sample box just scroll to the bottom of their home page for details.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Kindle MatchBook

Check this out...coming in October, Kindle MatchBook will allow Kindle owners who have purchased (certain) paper books from Amazon to get the Kindle version of the book at a reduced price (all the way down to FREE!!) The list appears short at the moment but a post on another blog mentioned they hope to be up to 10,000 titles by the launch in October. I've long thought it would be a great feature to get the Kindle version along-side the hard copy. Thumbs up Amazon for making this feature a reality.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Crock pot apple butter

I've been wanting to try making crock pot apple butter since I heard of it earlier this year. With it being a long weekend and the summer rambos looking great at the market yesterday, I decided it was time to give it a try. I worked from this recipe, cutting it in half as my crock pot is rather small.

I peeled, cored and sliced enough apples to fill my crock pot. Added a 1/4 c apple cider vinegar and set it on high for 8 hours.
Here's how it looked at the beginning...

And after 8 hours...

At that point I stirred it and turned the temperature to low. I left it go over night and here's what it looked like in the morning...

I added 1 cup splenda, 1/2 cup brown sugar, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of cloves. Stirred covered and let it go for another 4 hours...

It did not get quite as dry as I would have liked so I removed the cover and turned to high for another hour. Probably could have gone longer to get it thicker, but I think it's fine the way it is.

I ended up with a bit over 4 cups of apple butter and it is DELICIOUS. The recipe doesn't say how to store it but I'm going to freeze mine to be safe.