Friday, November 1, 2013

Sick Day

Thing I do when I'm sick:

Drink fancy coffee from my Keurig out of various Disney mugs.

Snuggle up with fat, fuzzy kitties.

Watch the entire series of The Office....on marathon. 

Eat random food off of a tray.  Everything tastes better on a tray, right?  

My random quick lunch today has: Butternut Squash soup, Go Veggie! Cheddar Cheese grilled cheese sandwich (on wheat), Gingerale, Chinese crunchy noodles and Indian spiced roasted Chick Peas (an odd but yum combination) and Lucy's vegan chocolate chip cookies.  

Lots of this came from a vegan swap which I'll be updating you with later in the week but I want to highlight that these cookies are made of garbanzo bean flour and THEY. ARE. DELICOUS. Vegan, gluten, nut and dairy free and SO YUM.

And now I must return to Scranton, PA. I hope everyone is having a good Friday and the rest of you aren't sickies like me!! :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vegan Champorado

Well everyone knows how much I LOVE rice. I could literally eat it everyday and not get tired of it. There are so many kinds and so much you can do with it. I recently found this dessert online and thought I'd give it a go with some leftover rice I had planned to make sushi with. It's super easy and really delicious. You'll want to make sure you're using a sticky, short grained rice for this, or it just won't be as tasty! I also used some of the vegan chocolate chips from my Vegan Swap Box for the chocolate. :) There are a lot of variations on this so feel free to put your own twist on this basic recipe.

You'll need:
  • 6 ounces vegan bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup short-grain sweet rice, also known as sticky rice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • vanilla almond milk (or your favorite kind)

**My rice was cooked so I didn't include instructions on how to do it! But make sure you're using cooked rice. :)**

So here's what to do:
Create a double boiler by filling a pot with 2 inches of water and bringing it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over the pot. (Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.) Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.Add the sugar and melted chocolate to the rice, whisk to combine, and return to a simmer. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside until the pudding has cooled slightly but is still warm, about 45 minutes. You can then refrigerate it to eat later (for up to three days!) or serve it. You can drizzle the almond milk over the top when you serve. 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Battle of the Boxes

Many of you are probably familiar with the idea of Beauty Boxes. Nail polish lovers can choose from Julep, Scratch, and The Nail Art Society for monthly deliveries of polish, snack lovers can choose Graze boxes, Nature boxes, even Vegan Cuts boxes. For lovers of all things cosmetic the choices are nearly endless. There are Ipsy, Beauty Box 5, Blissmo, Beauty Army and loads more. But how do you choose a box? Are they even worth it? Which ones offer the best benefits?  Well today I'm going to break down four beauty boxes for you to help you decide!  The beauty boxes I'm comparing range various prices, options and lifestyles and each box is the August 2013 edition. we go.

We'll start with the Birch Box because it's the cheapest option on my list.  Birch Box runs you $10 a month and offers four beauty samples and a "surprise" item in each box.  Here's the August box:

Yay nail polish! I was actually quite disappointed with this months box. Only two of the samples are really 'deluxe' and sunscreen is kind of a throwaway this late in the year.  The polish has a value of about $5 and the hair oil about .36 despite it's deluxe size. So...the box wasn't very valuable. I did also get a 20% off coupon code but it's for Anne Taylor so let's face it, that's going in the trash.

Pros: I really like that Birch Box ships early in the month because that means I get August's box IN August.  I also really love the price point because it works out to .33 a day. It's basically two coffee's.  I have had some REALLY stellar boxes. I also really love the point system. Each month you can review your items for points and then you can spend the points like cash in the Birch Box store. I've gotten quite a few items for free that way.

 The Birch Box point system has changed. While you still earn points for reviews, the reviews now must be at least 20 words long and be approved by someone before points are issued. Not so in love anymore. 

Cons: Birch Box is VERY hit or miss. Some boxes, like this one, are just junk. Others are really great but there's no guarantee what you'll get. Sometimes the free gift is really silly too; more than once I've gotten a hair rubber. I also don't love their customization which asks you a lot of random questions instead of just being forthright.

So now let's move on to the Eco Emi box.  Eco Emi is $15 a month and, as the name suggests, it's an eco friendly box filled with five to ten samples of natural, organic, green, eco-friendly, cruelty free, vegan, vegetarian or Fair Trade products.. Here's my box for August:

As you can see it's filled with a whole range of items. I've even gotten laundry soap in them! This box has a value of $12.50.  Last month had a value of $25 so these really do even out and more often than not I LOVE the box and am more than happy with the cost. This box alone has cookies, walnut butter, green tea leaves, eyeshadow, soap, some super cute wooden utensils, nail polish and some samples of lotion and body oil.

Pros: If you're vegetarian or into Eco Friendly things then this is an excellent way to try out new things. Sometimes those items can be a little more pricey so it's nice to be able to try before investing. I love that I get a lot of different things like snacks and hair care and makeup; it's fun to be able to try out lots of things. I also think the price point is spot on. There are always at least 7 or 8 items in my boxes and often more.

Cons: There is zero customization. Each box is the same every month so there's no tailoring it to your wants/needs. I get a lot of eye shadows and chap sticks. They're all different and I always need those things but sometimes it's a bit much. These also ship at the end of the month so for example, August's box arrived this month around the 29th.

Next up we have the $21 Glossy Box subscription. 

So I actually cancelled my Glossy Box subscription this month and went back to Birch Box. It was meant to be for the points cause there's something that I want to buy from their shop. BUT I just learned that they have all sorts of requirements now for reviews so it's sort of a waste. I'm really kicking myself and will probably join up again before this posts!  This box is epic. It has a value of close to $70! Everything in this box was full sized and I'm really excited about the red lip pencil. The fact spray is great in the summer and with curly, thick hair I can always use masks. The nail polish is a little "meh" (all of them will be reviewed later this week!) but the face powder is amazing. I also got a little jean Guess bag in this box as an extra.

Pros: Boxes nearly always have a high value and I've never had one that didn't contain at least one full sized item. I've gotten several Tarte lip sticks as well as a few nail polishes and eye liners. But on the other hand, I've also gotten a lot of things I'll never use like gel blushes and hair sprays. HOWEVER, you'll always have that with a box subscription.

Cons: While the value outweighs the cost nearly always, $21 is a little pricey for some.  There is customization but it's fairly minimal and the Glossy Dots they offer are basically useless. 

And finally we come to a new brand of box called Wantables. Wantables runs you $36 a month and you choose whether you'd like an accessory box or a beauty box. I chose beauty:

So here's my Wantables box. This box had a lot of brands I hadn't heard of before BUT that said, they definitely lived up to their price point!! There is an eye shadow quad, two lip glosses, a NAIL POLISH (Hello!!) and a little sample of body oil. The value of this box is around $80. VERY fair for a $36 price point. These boxes really vary because of the full customization Wantables offers so I've seen boxes with very diverse contents. They also appear to work with indie makers as I saw a few boxes with Rainbow Honey polishes. 

Pros: The value is indisputable and the items are also high quality.  You can choose between accessories (and jewelry) or cosmetics. The box came in a timely manner. This is the MOST customizable box I've come across. They not only ask you what cosmetics you like but then they break them down further by asking about specifics. I chose nail polish and was then asked if I liked colors or neutrals, shimmers or sheers, cremes or glitters, etc.  My box is VERY suited to the choices I made.

Cons: They are a bit of a reach for some people at $36 a month. BUT all my cosmetics are full sized and high priced items so if you already spend a lot on makeup it could be a great deal for you. I don't believe they have a rewards program either.

All in all Glossy Box and Eco Emi will continue to be my choices. But in the future I may definitely jump on board the Wantables train. I really loved that my box was MY box. No two are the same and it's really made up just for me. If I used more makeup on a regular basis it would definitely be worth the money. My Birch Box is going to the wayside again! Which box is your favorite?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Zoo Rat Adventures: Volume I

So it's no secret that I've been at the zoo a lot recently.  In fact, I've been there just about every weekend since May.  I hadn't really noticed til the third or fourth time I went but....the zoo seriously brings out the funniest people.  Having been there so many times I've learned quite a bit about the animals. Cheetah's can't jump very far. Sea Lions have ears while Seals do not. White Lions are not actually white, they just have lighter manes and bodies. Penguin babies are the same size as the adults to keep them from being picked off by predators. These things are perhaps not your most basic knowledge. But there's a difference between knowing specifics about the animals and just being...well...silly to put it nicely.  
Like this incident at the Columbus Zoo.  I'm standing next to the Aye Aye exhibit when two brothers run up to the glass, the first excitedly shouting "What is it?! What is it?!" His brother, obviously the genius of the bunch pointedly tells him "It's a nocturnal chicken. Duh." Duh indeed.  This little guy is the AyeAye:

And if the Nocturnal Chicken exists I've yet to see one. Now listen, I know zoo rats like me know all about the crazy different animals. In fact, I can even tell you the names of most of them and I don't mean White Handed Gibbon or Red Crowned Crane.  I mean as in Bobby the Sifaka and John the African Lion.  But let's face it...while most of you might not know the difference between a Potto and a Grey Lemur (ours are housed together and as our Grey Lemur is an expert at hiding they're almost always mistaken for one another) I'd hope MOST of you can tell the difference between basic animals.

Here's a more recent incident:

These gorgeous guys are White Lions. In the past two weeks I've been to the zoo twice and both times this exhibit illicited silly conversations.  The first when a woman pointed excitedly at them while saying to her family "Look ya'll!! Them lions got manes this week!!"  Yes, indeed male lions do have manes.  But come during the week and sometimes they have out the two female lions instead which is undoubtedly what had been the case on her last family visit.  I can assure you most definitely that those female lions did not magically "grow manes".  Then today yet another fabulously silly conversation took place next to me.  The scene: same as usual, both of our male White Lions sleeping in the sunny spot on their deck. A woman and her husband approach and the rest is what followed...
"Look at these!!"
"Wow! Are those lions or tigers?"
"I don't know, it's hard to tell when they're laying down."
"Yeah it is."
"Looks like they've got manes though. So..."

Ladies and gentleman....I give you one lion and one tiger:

Clearly not mistakable no matter the species nor position. But hey, a cat is a cat right? What about this gem that came up while I was visiting the Ocelots today:

"Whoa!! Look!!"
"What is it?!"
"It's a baby leprechaun!!"
"NO! It's a baby CHEETAH."

No boys, that's an Ocelot. But kudos to the second one for at least recognizing that it's a cat and not a small, magical, human-like creature with a pot of gold.

The kids are funny but understandably mislead. But then, their parents don't help.  At the Komodo Dragon exhibit a child asked his mother why it wasn't breathing fire. Rather than give him the correct answer, that Komodo Dragon's aren't THAT kind of dragon, she offered "He's too small to breathe fire yet. He will when he gets bigger."  Thanks for always being honest, mom.  

*Sigh* I guess the animals aren't the ONLY reason to go to the zoo!!! 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Adventures in Crafting: The Knitting Edition

Knitting is not like riding a bike.  If you stop doing it for any period of time, you WILL forget how. And you'll end up with a mess that looks something like this:

Sometime around fall of last year I decided that knitting would be a fun thing to do.  My mother does it as though she's a machine.  I kid you not, she can literally knit you a blanket in a day.  And everything she makes with it is so stretchy and soft and knitty. :)  So I enlisted her help in teaching me.  Everything went great until she left.  And I stopped knitting.  Five minutes later when I returned to continue my progress it literally looked like a mass of confusing strings and sticks and I had no idea what to put where.  So at work the next day I implored her to show me what I was doing wrong (it was backward).  And...then I got busy as things do and I put my 'scarf' to the side for awhile.  Cut to yesterday.  With my husband working all day and it being entirely too hot to be outside...I had little to keep me occupied.  I painted my nails (of course), made a few plushies...

Even made some scented paper.  Yeah. Paper. Because the only thing greater than paper is MORE paper. And after all that I decided to try to finish my scarf.  Bad idea.  I thought I had the gist of it...and then I thought maybe I'll just look online and it will jog my memory as to how this is done.  Worse idea.  I mean, have you SEEN the tutorials online for knitting? It's no wonder people buy machines for this.  It's like a whole other language.  So...I did what any sane person would, I didn't throw the whole thing in the trash and just buy a stupid scarf. Though, logically, it would have been less trying.  I called my mom.  And this time I'm not so much as going to the restroom til this scarf is finished.  I WILL remember how to knit. (for at least a few more months :P)

Bee x

Side note: My mother is the queen of all crafts. I'm convinced there is literally nothing she can't do.  So if you're not blessed with a wonderfully crafty mom like mine, you might ask a crafty friend for help. (Or you can borrow my mom. Just remember to return her)

June Jacobs Papaya Purifying Enzyme Mask

If you know me at all then you know I'm obsessed with face masks.  I'm not sure what it is about them that entices me.  But it's probably the fact that most are a quick fix for your skin.  The issue with me and masks is that I have somewhat sensitive skin and a lot of them either A) don't work, or B) make my skin worse.  I got this particular mask recently and I am LOVING it.  I put it second in line to my most favorite mask of all time, Organics Japanese Matcha Tea and Mask. This one is by June Jacobs Spa Collection and it's called the Papaya Purifying Enzyme Mask.  It's supposed to get rid of dead skin cells and combat free radicals and aging while making the skin soft.  What it does for anti-aging or free radicals I can't vouch for.  But what it does do is make your skin feel AH-MAY-ZING.  And it takes literally NO time at all.  Another plus?  You really don't need much to make a huge difference.  The mask works sort of like a lotion for your face. You put a tiny amount on your fingers and massage it INTO your skin.  This is different from most masks which are layered on top of the skin.  The second thing I noticed about it was that it smells awesome.  I'm sure its supposed to smell like papaya and perhaps it does (I have NO idea what a papaya smells like) but it seems to have hints of almond and vanilla and it feels tropical and light.  You leave the mask on for three  to ten minutes.  At first it feels moisturizing and light but after about five minutes I started to feel a little it might feel to spread chap stick all over your skin.  So I left it for about that long and then lightly buffed it off with warm water and a washcloth.  And....voila! Amazing skin.  My skin felt soft, moisturized and clean.  The directions say to use it twice a week but I use it about once a week and I think it makes a HUGE difference in my skin. Especially now that the weather is changing and my skin is getting dry.  I definitely recommended trying it out if you have dry skin, need a quick mask (anyone can squeeze in three minutes right?), or have sensitive skin and need something gentle on the skin.

You can purchase this directly from the June Jacobs website here.  3.8oz retails for $62.  I use mine once a week and I estimate that .5oz lasts about two months. So I'm thinking you could get almost a year out of one jar.  Not too bad for the price.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The cowardly lion...

 This is John. John is the new lion at the Cincinnati Zoo. He's 2 1/2 and he just got a brand spankin new exhibit in the Africa section which was newly opened this June. He was scared to come out though, understandably. So the first time I went to see him...well...I didn't. Ever the proactive bunch, the zookeepers had put up brown paper around his exhibit for everyone to write words of encouragement:

So everyone did. And pretty soon....John found his courage...

He's cute, no? But here's the thing: since John's been hanging out in his yard with all his new found pride...I haven't been able to go to the zoo. :( So I've yet to see him in all his glory. I made plans to go next Saturday and then this morning....THIS happened:

*sigh* I'm coming John. I promise.