Beauty and Body, Recipe, subscription box

The Review that I almost skipped: February Boxycharm and March Spoiler

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Hey folks,

How are you doing? Can you believe it’s freaking March already?! I can’t. Honestly, because of how fast time is going, this review almost didn’t happen. Shortly after getting our shipping notification from Boxy last month, I got an email stating that all of the Canadian boxes had been held by customs and that we should expect a delay of about a week. As a result of this, I didn’t get the box until the middle of the third week of February. I normally don’t like to post a review of something you can’t get, so I was planning on skipping February all together.

Buuuuut, I figure that all of these things can be purchased from the brands individually, so even if you can’t get this box itself, if something catches your eye you can still buy it. So, here we go!

Don’t know what Boxycharm* is? Well, it’s the best subscription box out there. For 21USD a month, you get a guaranteed 4-5 full sized or deluxe samples from amazing brands valued at a minimum of 100USD. This post is in no way sponsored. I pay for my own box.

Theme: Galaxy Glow

feb7

Naked Cosmetics Holographic Highlight Palette (40USD)

Firstly, as Simply Nailogical has taught us, this is not holo. It is super cute though.

notholo

You get 6 different shades of duochrome highlighter in this palette, some being more out there, like green and blue, and others a bit more wearable like the pinks. The quality of these is pretty good. I did find them a tiny bit chunky. They go on pretty sheer and can be built up. Unfortunately though, because I’m so fair and pretty conservative in my highlighter preferences, I don’t really see myself getting much use out of this on my cheeks.

feb4

I also tried it on my eyes and found it very pretty. Something in the formula doesn’t like me though, and immediately triggered an eczema flair up on my lid. Sadly, I’ll be passing this on I think

feb11
I used a mix of the pinks and purples as my highlight.

Seraphine Botanicals Lemon+Sugar Moisturizing Lip Buffer (24USD)

Sugar scrubs are nice to have this time of year, however I’ve had mix luck with them in the past as they tend to get everywhere and aggravate my eczema. I liked the scent and taste of this buffer, and really loved how moisturized it made my lips, but it really didn’t have enough grit to it to really exfoliate much. I wish it didn’t have any sugar at all and was just a lip oil.

feb5

 

Vintage Black Eyeliner (21USD)

I have been pretty curious about this brand, so I was excited to see this in February’s boxycharm. My local winners carries a few items by Vintage and I’ve never had the nerve to pick them up to try. I tend to prefer mechanical style eyeliner pencils, but this is really nice. It goes on smoothly, without tugging. It’s not the blackest black ever, but it’s nice. I did notice that when I wore it on my tightline it did transfer down a bit, so keep that in mind. It’s decent, but not the best. I will keep using it though.

feb2

Cover FX – Shimmer Veil in Amethyst (28USD)

I was so excited for this one! I love Cover FX as a brand and I really wanted to try one of these liquid eyeshadow/glitter things. I love how the colour looked in the tube and couldn’t wait to put it on the eyes.

feb3

I tried this product two ways. The first way, I wore this was as a bit of a toned down halo eye, with the shimmer veil as a pop in the center of the lid. This was definitely my favourite way to wear this product. It applied to a smaller area really easily and I was able to use my fingers to quickly blend out the edges without much fussing.

The second way, I put it all over the lid as the main colour. I found it a bit difficult to get even colour and shine over a larger area, though I was able to blend out the edges easily without glitter fall out or it chunking off.

feb8

I really like this product. It’s pretty, shiny and fun for a pop of brightness. I will definitely use it again.

Crown Brush – Pro Brush Trio (30USD)

I was so happy to find three brushes in this box. Look wise, they remind me a lot of the wet n wild brushes. The bristles are very soft and feels nice on the skin. The two face brushes aren’t my favourites, simply because they aren’t the size and shape I normally go for. The tulip shaped brush is decent for setting under the eyes and the other one worked ok for contour.

The one that I did like was the smallest of the three. The smaller brush was good for applying eyeshadow, and I like it quite a bit for creamy products like the Colourpop shadows or for blending out the edges of the Cover FX Glimmer Veil.

feb1

Overall, this was a pretty decent box. I’ll definitely get use out of the Glimmer Veil, the eyeliner and at least one of the brushes. Definitely worth the cost of the box. Also, I think this is the first time that I’ve seen the theme matching the products! Well done Boxycharm*!

I’m extremely excited for this month’s box. I’ve seen a few spoilers and cannot wait to get my hands on it.

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From My Subscription Addiction

Also, they’ve removed the waitlist for a limited time!  Now would be a good time to try it out :)

Beauty and Body, Health, Recipe

Recipe: Golden Milk

Cold and flu season is upon us. Working in retail, in a store that caters to families, means that I am around germs whenever I am not out at the park (germ heaven) with little dude. Don’t misunderstand. I am no germaphobe. I don’t bathe my house in bleach, nor do I carry around hand sanitizer. Instead, I try to eat healthy, take my vitamins and wash my hands. I have been looking for tips and tricks to boost my immune system just a bit more when there are bugs going around. Well, this week Liam developed a nasty cold. I knew it would only be a matter of time before it hit me.

So far, I have dodged it. I hope it is because of my improved diet and fitness, but it could also be my religious drinking of something called “Golden Milk”. Golden Milk is basically a spiced milk drink that is supposed to help you get through cold and flu season. A lot of the homesteading blogs and pages I have been following mention the amazing immunity boosting powers of tumeric, so when I came across this recipe, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.20141027_135456Golden Milk

  • 2 cups milk of your choice (cow, goat, soy, almond or coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger (or one-half inch fresh ginger thinly sliced or grated)
  • A sprinkle of black pepper (fresh is best)
  • Unpasturized honey to taste

20141110_192800Add milk, tumeric, ginger and pepper to sauce pan over medium heat. Be careful to stir frequently to prevent boiling over and burning.

Allow to simmer slightly (small bubbles will appear at the rim of the sauce pan) for a couple of minutes. Remember to keep stirring.

Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

You may want to strain this if you are using fresh ingredients or if you want to avoid the silty bottom. Serve warm and add honey to taste. 20141027_135511I actually quite like the taste. I am going to keep enjoying this warm spiced drink this winter as both a tasty nighttime treat and as a way to fight off colds. Let me know what you think, if you try it!

Baby, Recipe

Black magik

This time of year always makes me nostalgic. As we are forced indoors by the cold, I think back to Halloween over the years. I used to go to a local club every year with my friends to celebrate at the Annual Witches Gathering party.

It’s a hard thing to explain. I’ve had other friends join me and try never really got why I went there every year. The line ups were awful, service was bad and the music was terribly outdated (and not in a good way). There was a certain appeal of being with my people and attending out of a sense of ritual. They have since changed venues, but I haven’t gone since my Mom passed.

Me at the Gathering, 2009.
Me at the Gathering, 2009.

Before going out, we used to stop by a little cafe downtown called Oh So Good. Oh So Good used to have this amazing coffee on the menu called Black Magik. It was served in a bowl style mug and was DELICIOUS. The cafe has since moved and lost its appeal, as well as the Black Magik on the menu.

Tonight is the night of the Witches Gathering. I’m not going, but I decided to make myself a cup of Black Magik as best as I could.

OSG’s Black Magik

My not-so-black magik
My not-so-black magik

What you need:

  • Strong black coffee (I used my Keurig, but whatever tickles your fancy is what works best)
  • Two scoops of chocolate icecream
  • Sweetener of choice (I used maple syrup)
  • Milk/Cream/whatever if you need it

It’s pretty straight forward. Brew your coffee however you like it. It’s best if it’s a heavier strong coffee. Add two scoops of chocolate icecream and stir. If it’s not sweet or light enough for you, add your sweetener and milk/cream/whatever. I only had vanilla icecream on hand, so that’s what went into mine. Garnish with a tiny bit of Cinnamon and Nutmeg.

What ever you’re up to tonight, I hope you’re having a lovely time. We are relaxing and setting Liam up in his big boy room. It’s his first night out of our room. Wish us luck!

Liam's Room <3
Liam’s Room <3
Recipe

Soup Day

I’ve been fighting a nasty cold for a couple of days now. It’s mostly just a sinus thing, but I feel like my whole body is 80 years older. My mind is foggy, my body is sore and my head feels so full of crap. I’ve managed to get out and play with L despite feeling like ass, but I knew I needed a day to center myself after getting only 3 hours of sleep last night. Poor Liam is more than a little bored, but in the end it’ll be worth it. The fall weather has inspired me. I want a tasty way to get all the veggies from our CSA into my belleh. What’s a good way of doing that while hunkering down at home? Soup of course!

 

My first batch today is from this recipe: Roasted Tomato Vegetable Soup. 

 

Roasted Tomatoes
Roasted Tomatoes

 

So many pretty carrots
So many pretty carrots
Ready to simmer
Ready to simmer

I made a few changes to the recipe. Firstly, I Carnivore-d it Up by using chicken stock (instead of half of the water) and chicken bouillon cubes (instead of veggie bouillon). This is partially for the flavour, and partially because I firmly believe that chicken stock is mandatory in fighting illness (At least in my home). Also, I didn’t have fancy basil oil (Tracy, I can feel your sad head-shake from here.), so I just used olive oil with dried basil sprinkled over the tomatoes instead. I was pretty generous with my veg, so I may have ended up with a thicker soup than normal. I’m ok with that.

So good!
So good!

My second batch is Grandma J’s Borscht Recipe.

My mother’s recipe book was pretty vague, so I did the best I could. My understanding of Borscht is that it is a soup to use whatever veg you have at the time. For me, this included green beans, instead of yellow, and a variety of beets, rather than just one basic kind.  Pat doesn’t like peas, so I nixed those. Again, I used chicken stock instead of water. My poor grandmother would be grumbling disapprovingly, I’m sure. I kept all my chopping chunky and rough. I took half of the soup and blended it smooth, then mixed in the chunks. I think fall soups are yummy thick beasts, so I went with that.

The recipe:

Grandma J’s Borscht

grandmajsborscht

  • 1 2/3 cups yellow beans
  • 1 cup peas
  • 3/4 cup carrots
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 pint tomatoes
  • 1 cup cabbage
  • 5-6 small potatoes
  • 3 cups beets
  • 1 tblsp salt
  • 8-9 cups water

Put all together and simmer until tender.

Getting started
Getting started
So pretty!
So pretty!
Tasty!
Tasty!

I have one more planned for tonight, but we’ll see if I burn out before then. I’m freezing half of all of this, and only keeping half of that. The rest of the frozen portions are going to my bestie, S, and her family. Baby Bobby just joined the family, so I want to treat them to some tasty meals. The rest is for dinner tonight :D

 

Recipe

Who needs a market? Not me, today!

One of Liam’s favourite books is the fantastic “To Market, To Market
by Anne Miranda. For those who don’t know it, it’s a cute story about a woman who buys a bunch of animals with plans for making lunch (with them as the meal), however each of these animals escape into her home, so she gives up on eating them and decides to make veggie soup for herself and the critters.

Today I threw together something similar in the crock pot for dinner tonight and I wanted to share.

I based the recipe on Get Off Your Butt and Bake’s Traditional Stew recipe, which is a good base recipe for a basic stew. While I don’t currently have a bunch of animals running around my house instead of being a tasty meal, I did have a grumpy tired husband, a cranky teething baby and work tonight. We get our next box of CSA veg later today, so I wanted to make room in the fridge. It was a bad week for cooking, so I have a lot left over from last week. Luckily for us, that included some stewing beef, so its not exactly like the story. The whole time I was chopping the veggies, I couldn’t help but think of the story. Here’s what I put together:

Heather’s No Market Needed Stew:

YOU WILL NEED:

  • Around 2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes. I had less than half that, so I added more veg
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 3 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Shallots
  • 2 Knorr Beef Bouillon packets
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • Chunked Veggies of your choice (This time, I used heirloom baby carrots, chopped CSA carrots, CSA red pepper, CSA Patty Pans, CSA fingerling potatoes, CSA red potatos, CSA beets)
  • A few shakes of Mrs. Dash original
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup broth (I had some organic chicken broth left. Yes, it seems weird to add chicken broth to a beef stew, but I’m working with what I have)
Coat meat with flour in a large ziploc bag. Set the leftover flour aside.
In large skillet heat oil (I used vegetable oil). Brown meat on all sides
In slow cooker, combine browned beef, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, shallots, garlic, bouillon cubes, seasoning, and vegetables.

stewPour water and broth over top, enough to mostly cover the meat and veg. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hrs.

Set slowcooker to high and thicken with 1/4 cup of the flour left over from coating dissolved in a small amount of warm water. Cover and cook on high 10 to 15 minutes until you are happy with the thickness.

Feeds 2 adults and a toddler, with plenty left for lunch tomorrow.

It’s a perfect way to use up those CSA or fall harvest vegetables. <3

House, Recipe

A Responsible Sandwich

I’ve been meaning to share this for a few days now, but due to life getting in the way, I haven’t been able to take the time to make more of these sandwich buns and photograph the process. As I mentioned in my first post about responsibility, one of the changes we made was making some items at home, rather than buying. Here’s what went into that decision.

!. When attempting to work on our finances, we wanted to make some easy changes to our day to day lives. We looked at where money was going, and pin pointed areas where we could save. In this case, Pat was buying lunch Monday-Friday (usually at Subway, though occasionally at a local deli/sandwich shop). The average cost spent was 8$/day or about 160$/month, with no prep required.

2. I then tried a less labour intensive solution: Purchasing ready-made sandwich buns from the local store. The cost break down is this:

Buns: 1.99/sandwich

Meat: 1.70/sandwich

Condiments and other toppings: 0.35/sandwich

Total Sandwich cost for the month: About 81$ (about 50.6% of the Subway cost)

Prep Required: About a second or two more to my grocery shopping time, and about 5 minutes to make the sandwich.

As you can tell, there was a significant price difference here. We started on that route. We did, however, notice that the buns purchased were rarely available the day they were made (ie: they were already a day or two old when we bought them), and as a result, wouldn’t last the week, resulting in either a day of purchased lunch or dipping into other groceries for a different meal.

3. In an attempt to save a bit more money, force myself out of my comfort zone, try to make something that would last longer and to try something new, I decided to make my own buns. Here is the cost breakdown:

Buns: 0.74/sandwich

Meat: 1.70/sandwich

Condiments: 0.35/sandwich

Total Sandwich cost for the month: 56$ (35% of the original subway cost)

Prep Required: This is where there is a major difference. While the actual work involved was maybe only 10 minutes of actual effort, the buns took the better part of the day to make and require staying close to home.

So, is it worth it? Depends. When I have time – Absolutely. I found the process of making the bread extremely soothing. I felt proud that my efforts yielded such tasty results. Having said that, I will definitely rely on store-bought when we have a crazy week. On a personal level, I really love the challenge of getting back to the basics. Homemade bread, homemade sauces, etc… I feel better about what my family is eating when I know every single ingredient in each part of their meal – because I made it myself. As a bonus – There is nothing better in this world than a slice of bread, hot from the oven, smothered in butter and honey with a cup of tea. Seriously.

And now for the recipe itself. I found it here. It really is a perfect fit for the delicious po boy bread of New Orleans (squishy soft inside, thin crunchy crust). I won’t re-write it all, but rather share my experience with it (if you haven’t made bread before, please don’t be nervous! This is seriously my second time ever, and it wasn’t hard in the least.)

A Responsible Sandwich Bun

1. Following the recipe from The Galley Gourmet, mix your ingredients on low until bread pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Add salt and then set to knead for 10 minutes on medium. (Note: I used a blend of white bread flour and multigrain bread flour)

bread5

2. Form a ball on a floured surface. Place in a greased bowl, cover with clingwrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise (about 1hr 1/2. I used this time to put the baby down for a nap, eat all of the left over Apple Crisp from the Farmer’s Market and watch some Weeds)

bread4bread3

3. Deflate the dough on a floured surface. Divide into as many “loaves” or buns as you would like (recipe recommends 6-8). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes

bread2

4. Form rolls, place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with damp cloth, let sit for an hour.

bread1

5. Bake for about 30 minutes at 375.

Let buns cool completely for tasty sandwich bread, or, dive right in like me and enjoy the hollow tasty (and cheap) goodness.

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Recipe

OAMC Review – Beef Noodle Bake

With baby due to arrive almost any day now, I’m started testing out some of my freezer meals pre-freezer to see if they are worth a weekend of cooking. My first trial was this:

Beef Noodle Bake

from Food.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My take:

I pretty much stayed true to the original recipe. The only change I made was that I used yolk-free egg noodles to cut down on fat content.

Review:

Both Pat and I found this recipe to be extremely bland. I think it could definitely benefit from some more interesting spicing, perhaps a pasta sauce instead of plain tomato sauce (I’ve been adding red pepper sauce to spice things up a bit). Also,  I think the cheese choices need some pep. I don’t think the cottage cheese is enough. Perhaps ricotta to add more creaminess? A sharper cheddar on top? SOMETHING.

Otherwise, I could see this being an easy addition to the supper rotation. It has all the ease of our family baked pastas that we love so much, without any Cream of Whatever soups. I also enjoy that the bake time is so short, which is handy for these OAMC style meals.