Thursday, September 25, 2014

eSalon product review


A little over a month ago I received a hair coloring kit from eSalon as part of a BzzAgent campaign (see my initial post here.) The campaign is ending this week so I wanted to get my thoughts posted. While I haven't had a chance to try the color kit yet, I have been using the "Tinted Love" color enhancing glaze and the "Shining Armor" oil treatment.

Tinted Love ($15) is unlike most color glazes I've tried in the past. The product is quite thin and looks like liquid gold. You use the product between shampoo and conditioner. The odd thing is that it lathers like a shampoo. It doesn't seem to be a cleansing product in that my hair does not feel stripped. It is also not conditioning, I still use my regular conditioner after. I just use a quarter size amount, work it into my wet hair and let it sit for 3 or 4 minutes before rinsing out. I've been using it twice a week. It does add a nice shine to my hair and maybe some golden highlights. I would not say that it has prolonged my color at all, though. So, color enhancing, yep, color extending, no.

Shining Armor ($18) is a lightweight leave in oil treatment. It has a faint citrus smell that fades quickly. It did a fine job smoothing my hair and keeping frizz at bay. I've used it on both wet and dry hair with equally good results. I've used it at least 4 or 5 times per week and it feels like the bottle is about 2/3 gone.

As I said, these products were sent to me free to try with the campaign....Would I buy these products with my own money? Probably not. They ARE fine products but I feel like there are equally good products out there for a fraction of the price. I'm still looking forward to trying the color when I get to the point I need it and will post my thoughts on it then.


Monday, September 22, 2014

September 2014 Goodebox

I received my bi-monthly edition of the Goodebox last week. September's box is curated by Sadie Lincoln, founder of Barre 3.
The main item in the box is a free 30 day membership to Barre3.com, an online fitness site. The workouts are based on ballet, yoga and pilates moves and range from 10 to 60 minutes. The site also includes recipes and weight loss programs. I'm planning to start my free month over my long weekend next week so it will stretch into vacation the end of October. I am excited to try the workouts as I love both yoga and pilates. A "field guide" with food tips, exercise schedules and tracking charts was included along with one of those tacky stretch bracelets. Since I'm already using Atkins.com to track my fitness/weightloss I doubt I'll use the booklet and the rubber band is going straight to the trash. (value $15)

Next up are 3 sample packets of Weleda Skin Food. I love that they included 3 since most foil packets don't contain much product. Skin Food is a rich moisturizer for dry skin. I do believe I've tried it a long time ago and liked it. I'm sure it will be perfect for the the inevitable dry skin of winter! (value ?, maybe $.50)

A tin of Jacobsen Salt Co. salt. I must admit, I'm pretty cool with plain old kosher salt. This flake salt comes in a cute tin but otherwise, tastes like salt to me. I'm sure I'll use it but wouldn't go out of my way to purchase it. (value $2.95)

A full size All Natural Face cream blush in Dusky Rose. I already know and love this brand. I have 2 of their cream blushes already but this is a new color for me. These blushes are easy to apply and give long lasting color. The brownish red color should be nice for fall. (value $5.75)

SquareHue nail polish in Canon Drive 08.14. SquareHue is a monthly subscription box that includes 3 limited edition colors. Cost is $14.99 plus shipping (total $19.99). The polish I received was a gorgeous purple color. Unfortunately it chipped on me in less than 3 days. I'll give it another try or two to make sure it wasn't just a bad week. (value $5 plus there's a coupon to receive a free surprise box with your first month's subscription, value $15).

SkinnySkinny Dry Shampoo in Jasmine. I love the idea of not washing my hair everyday. And in that respect I am fortunate to have dry hair that doesn't get oily. Ever. So dry shampoo is a complete no go for me. However, this is a quite generous sample and I'm sure for someone that likes dry shampoo it would have been a great item. (value $7)

And finally a Coconut Cleansing Bar from Homespun Northwest.This is a small sample of a plain white coconut soap. It has no smell and, quite honestly, feels like a block of melt & pour soap. I use all the soap samples I get and I'm sure this will be a fine soap. I just prefer some bells and whistles in the soaps I buy so I don't think I would purchase this. (value ?, $1)

The Goodebox runs $18. So long as I actually use the Barre3 workouts I'll get my money out of it this month.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Latte

If there's one thing that just screams "fall" it's Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Something about cool weather brings out the craving for this spicy creamy drink. I don't have a Starbucks nearby so I've never had the original, but I have had various versions from local coffee places and they are all quite good. But pricey. And loaded with sugar. Since going back to Atkins this year I'm really trying hard to limit my carbs so I decided to make my own PSLs and see if I couldn't do it low carb.

I found a copy cat recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte syrup and tweaked it a bit. Here's my version:
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups Splenda
4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbl canned pumpkin puree

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Cool. Remove all but one cinnamon stick. I do not strain my syrup (why waste that healthy fiber!?) but you could if you prefer a super smooth coffee. Transfer to a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator. Shake well before using. I use 3-4 tablespoons of syrup for my jumbo coffee mug (I like my coffee pretty sweet).

Next time I would use less cloves or maybe just leave them out and up it to 3 tablespoons of pumpkin. This syrup is delicious and makes a darn tasty PSL. The original recipes says it should last a month in the fridge, but at the rate I drink these I don't think I'll be pushing the shelf life! Using Splenda instead of sugar and adding real pumpkin greatly reduces the carbs and ups the fiber of this treat. Now I can enjoy one of my favorite fall drinks without the guilt!



1
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar[4]
  • 4 cinnamon sticks[5]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • - See more at: http://www.copycatrecipeguide.com/How_to_Make_Starbucks_Pumpkin_Spice_Syrup#sthash.F2LcFaG6.dpuf

    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    Vintage Created Soy Candles

    2nd post today but I really wanted to get this one up too.

    I recently discovered Vintage Created candles on Etsy. I picked up two of her woodwick soy candles for fall in Tobacco Caramel and Fireside.

    They come in beautiful, heavy glass jars that she says can be washed and reused when the candle is used up. I'm all about reusing my candle jars and these are beauties. The wicks provide a lovely glow and gentle scent throw. I was afraid the woodwick would be hard to put out but I found it easy to blow out. Tobacco Caramel smells reminiscent of Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille, yummy and cozy. Fireside is more of a woodsmoke scent than the sweet smokey scent of B&BW's Fireside, wonderful on a cold day. The only downside was the scent names weren't marked on my candles (perhaps an oversight, perhaps just the way it is). However, there are paper labels on the bottom of the jars where I was able to right on the name.

    Recently the owner, Elaine, posted a contest on Facebook to suggest layered candle scent combos of her fall scents. The contest didn't have much response and I won! As a prize I received a candle in my suggestion, Hayride over Mulled Cider.

    This is a traditional wick candle in a square mason jar. I love how the layers are a bit tilted so I should have a period when both scents combine. So excited to burn this one but I think I'm going to save it for October.

     If you are a candle lover I highly recommend checking out her Etsy shop. She offers several sizes and varieties of candles in a bunch of scents and her prices are quite good. Right now (through Monday 9-15-14) she is offering a sale of 10% off your pumpkin scented order using the coupon code PUMPKIN.

    Library sale book haul

    Yesterday was the annual Myerstown Library book and bake sale. It was a cool rainy day. But attendance still seemed good and we sold a lot of books and yummy baked goods. I didn't find any of the specific books I was looking for but still managed to fill my bag with some good finds.

    I've read a few Susan Wittig Albert and Janet Evanovich books in the past and enjoyed them so I added these five to my collection. Pumpkin Muffin Murder, The Lord is my Shepherd, Jeneration X and Talking to girls about Duran Duran have all been on my Kindle wishlist so I was happy to snag copies. Sugar Solution was recommend reading by my doctor a few years back. I'm a firm believer in cutting sugar and high glycemic foods so this should be interesting reading. Pirate Latitudes is a complete wildcard. I've read some Michael Crichton when I was younger, I love pirate stories so it could be good. Looks like I may have lucked out this year and didn't purchase any books that were already on my shelf! C also picked up a big pile of books but I didn't get a picture before he put them away.

    Now if I can just find time to read!!!

    Monday, September 01, 2014

    North Coast Organics - new HG natural deodorant

    A few years back I talked about my ongoing quest to find a good, natural deodorant. At the time, Lavanilla's Healthy deodorant had become my go to. And I do still love it. It's a bit pricey but it doesn't irritate my underarms, smells good, lasts most of the day.

    For the last year and a half I've been alternating between it and Crystal Deodorant Stick. Crystal is dirt cheap, works exceptionally well and, even after all that time I'm STILL on my first stick. It can be a little messier to use since you have to wet it to apply. I find it easier to just apply right after showering while my underarms are still wet. It can also sting a bit after shaving, hence I alternate between the two.

    Even with two go to deodorants on my shelf, ever fickle me still likes to try new stuff as it comes around. This summer I tried 2...the first was Nourish Organics. It was ok. Price was decent, smell was good. The product comes in a standard deodorant twist up tube. I found it to be quite soft and it left a lot of product residue on my skin. It did keep me fresh about as long as the Lavanilla, 8 hours or so before needing to reapply. No irritation after shaving. Because of the soft nature of the product I blew through the tube in a little over a month. Probably wouldn't repurchase this one.

    The other was buzzed about a good bit in the natural beauty community on You Tube and piqued my interest. I started following North Coast Organics on Facebook and when they ran a sale a while back, I took the plunge and placed an order.

    I picked up a sample of Revolver (a slightly masculine, woody scent), a full size of Death by Lavender (duh, lavender) and this totally awesome tee shirt because you KNOW I can't resist the skulls.

    This deodorant has quickly become my hands down holy grail. The scent is light and fades quickly for me. The product is firm and applies without leaving a bunch of gunk in your pits (or on your clothes). I don't find it irritates my skin at all even though it does contain baking soda. The best part, the tipping point that makes this one number one, is that the odor protection lasts more than 24 hours for me. Seriously. Even after working out and getting all sweaty and gross, I don't stink. Now, granted, it's not a huge problem for me to begin with (fortunately, I know). But still. I'm incredibly impressed. 

    They currently offer 3 varieties (the third is unscented) plus some lip balms and lotions. They are available in a few stores but ordering online is easy and shipping is fast. Definitely worth checking out.