Influenster Frosty VoxBox

***All products received free from Influenster for testing purposes.***

In this box, I received:

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum – 3ml sample packet
Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaffeinated Green Tea – 2 tea bags
Ecotools Sleek + Shine Finisher hair brush
Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover – 125mL
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal pencil eye liner – Black
Red Vines Fruit Vines Bites Strawberry Flavor – 5 oz.
McCormick Gourmet All Natural Thyme – .62 oz.
NYC Expert Last Lip Color – 418 Sugar Plum

So far, I have had the chance to try the NYC lipstick and the Rimmel eye makeup remover. I’ll review those soon. I feel positive feelings about both so far. I’ve had Candy Cane Lane before and I know that I like that.

I look forward to trying all of the things in this box, with perhaps the exception of the brush. I’m pretty attached to my Mason Pearson. I’ll still give it a try though!

Nature’s Bakery Strawberry Fig Bar Review

snack time!

I received a Nature’s Bakery Strawberry Fig bar in a recent Popsugar Must Have box. Today, I decided to try it out!

It’s self described as 100% natural, cholesterol free, dairy free, 0g of trans fat, kosher, and non GMO. All of the ingredients are recognizable and easily pronounced.

They’re chewy and taste good. Sweet but not overly. Pretty much exactly like a cereal bar (Nutri-grain or the like) so if you enjoy those, you’d probably enjoy this.

Highlights from the nutrition facts panel:

110 calories, 2.5 g of fat, 35 mg of sodium, 20 g of carbohydrates, 10 g of sugars, and 2 g of protein.

Will I buy this? No. But not because it’s not a fine specimen in the world of cereal bars. I just don’t eat grains most of the time. And when I do eat grains, I’m usually going all out and it’s going to be some sort of dessert. Nomnomnom, dessert. But I would definitely recommend this if it *is* your thing.

Salted Butter, how did I live without you?

Ever have things that you thought you didn’t like and then you have them later in life after avoiding them for years and years and you find that, yes, you DO like this thing and how ever did you spend so many years being so so very wrong???

So started my love affair with salted butter.

When I was little, we always had margarine. My best friend had real butter at her house. I did not like it at all. I think it may have been the unsalted variety, though, which I *still* don’t like. So I spent years thinking I just didn’t like real butter at all.

Then several years ago, I had dinner at a friend’s house, and I had *salted* butter with the bread. And I LOVED it. And from that moment, my tastes have completely changed. I don’t care for margarine at all now. It’s edible, if there’s nothing else, but bleah. Not my favorite.

Now, I use salted butter at every opportunity. Even when recipes call for unsalted, I ignore them and use what I like. I’m just glad I was eventually forced to give it a shot! Just imagine how many more years I could have gone! The horror!

Things to do with rum

Specifically, I’m really liking Kilo Kai rum lately. It is yummy and mixes well with other things.

I’ve tried it with spiced apple cider (one shot of Kilo Kai in a mug of hot cider), and mixed with Kahlua and Bailey’s (mix in equal parts – I did this as a shot but you could easily serve it over ice in a glass).

Most recently, I’ve used it as the rum portion of my hot buttered rum recipe. This is SO GOOD. You really must try it. The recipe makes a whole bunch but this is not a bad thing. Keep some for yourself, to get you through the cold winter, and give some away to family and friends!

Product Whore’s hot buttered rum

1 lbĀ  salted butter
1 lb dark brown sugar
1 lb powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 quart softened vanilla ice cream
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and powdered sugar. Taste it now because this part is HEAVEN.

Remove from heat, and whisk in the ice cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour mixture into a plastic container, seal, and freeze.

To prepare:
In a coffee mug, measure 1 tablespoon of rum batter (or more, this stuff is delicious!) and 1 shot of rum (try it with Kilo Kai, you will love it!), then fill cup with boiling water. Stir and enjoy!

Variation to try: replace the water with hot apple cider.

What are your favorite rum based drinks? Have you tried Kilo Kai? I’d love to hear your thoughts and favorite drink recipes!

give chocolate! people will love you!

I would love you anyway.

Specifically, Ethel’s chocolate would make an excellent gift! They have seasonal boxes and baskets, including this round box of their limited edition holiday chocolates. I would love to try the Pecan Pie. mmmmm.

Also fabulous are their chocolate bars. I love the buttery caramel and the almond toffee crisp.

You can even design your own collection. I do this every time I go to Chicago. Sometimes twice!

coffee and coffee drinks

For a while I was drinking coffee every day. This was fine except when I would take a day off and then I was plagued with a nasty headache. I cursed the little caffeine monkey on my back (damn you little monkey!) and one day decided it might be a good idea to give it up for a while. Since then, I’ve tried to limit it to a cup once or twice a week, and have been caffeine-headache free. Yay!

Until this last week. I haven’t been able to help myself!

I’ve always liked those little tins of coffee drink mix. You’ve probably seen them at the store. The cans are about the size of a can of spam and they cost a gazillion dollars. Ok not that much. But they *are* expensive for how tiny they are. So I rarely buy them. This is probably for the best because it’s such tasty stuff that I’d want to drink it all the time and back would come my little monkey!

Unfortunately, I found an alternative that tastes just as fabulous but costs a lot less! I’m sad! I’m excited! I don’t know what I am! I’m drinking more coffee, that’s for sure.

I love reading the Hillbilly Housewife. Good information, well presented, great site. Did you know she also has drink mix recipes??? Eep! I made the Rich Vanilla Coffee mix last weekend, not really because it was the one I wanted to try the most, but because I had all of the ingredients on hand. And it is so good. So good! I made my way through the first batch this week and just made a new batch today. I cannot wait to try some of the other recipes. If you have the ingredients for any of these on hand, I highly recommend you try them!

I plan to stock up on the ingredients and tuck drink mixes in my holiday goodie baskets and bags. It will be fabulous!

Tea, glorious tea

Now that it’s getting cold, I’m in the mood to drink more hot beverages. They really do help when I’m feeling icy. Which seems like most of the time! I’ve totally been in the mood for tea, coffee and hot chocolate. I’ll comment on the other two at a later point but right now I want to talk about tea! After last night I just have tea on the brain! I’m actually making a pot right now.

I have a ridiculous amount of the stuff (not that it’s limited to tea, I have a ridiculous amount of stuff in general) and I keep getting the urge to buy more! I have two tea pots but it just doesn’t seem like enough! Here are some things that have caught my eye recently. Maybe they’d be good for the tea drinker in your life!

Mate Lemon Blast Herbal Tea: I haven’t actually tried any Mate tea so far, but I’ve been aiming to make my way through the different tea types to figure out what I like. Teavana describes it as “An energizing blend of Yerba Mate with lemongrass, rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.” I really like the smell of lemongrass so this has some definite potential.

Samurai Chai Mate: “A sip of this sweetly robust straight up Mate blend awakens the Samurai within. Inspired by the Way of the Warrior, this fresh green Mate is imbued with strong spices, invigorating herbs and revitalizing citrus. A wonderful cup of tea that will get you moving!” Citrus and spice can be pretty fabulous together and this sounds like a good morning tea.

Insulated Travel Tea Mug: This is a great idea for a messy person like me! Once in a while I’ll take my coffee or tea to work in a travel mug and somehow I always manage to spill it. On me or in the car somehow. A vacuum sealed cup would be incredibly helpful. As long as it worked anyway.

TriniTEA Electric Tea Maker: Have I mentioned that I also love appliances? I seriously don’t need any more. I don’t have room for any more. But man, I *want* this! Adagio says: “This wondrous appliance does it all – heats water, steeps leaves, and keeps tea warm so you may enjoy it all day long. Variable timer and temperature control lets you adjust the strength of an infusion, ensuring a perfect cup of tea each time. “

How handy would this be if you have multiple tea types that you like to drink? They all seem to come with different requirements for temperature and steep time. This could take the guess work out of it! (And, since it keeps it warm in the pot, it could also cut down on my icky unintentionally cold tea problem.)

Instant Read Digital Thermometer: For a slightly less expensive option, I could also use an instant read thermometer. It might not be as fancy, and it would take more work on my part, but it would definitely help me steep a perfect cup of tea. Ok, let’s not get overly ambitious here. It would get me going in the right direction, anyway.

And finally, teapots, some of which are so lovely to look at, they can almost double as decoration. If you happen to have a Teavana store near you, definitely go inside and see their selection of teapots. I’ve been to the store in Chicago and it was fabulous! I sampled teas, drooled over their wares, and got advice on tea to take home with me.

Your turn! What’s your favorite tea? Favorite place to buy it?

vending machine breakfast

There are some days when I’m sitting at my desk and I am freezing and starving. My only options are remaining freezing and starving or heading down to the basement in our building and seeing what I can find in the vending machines. It’s usually pretty disappointing, unless you really are only looking for combos and cheez-its and itty bitty instant coffee. (and hey- I do have those days!) But most days, I would much rather have more satisfying and healthful options.

Alas. Where is a coffee-and-fresh-pastry-and-fruit fairy when you really need one?

Holiday Gift Guide!

Looking for gifts for the product whore in your life? I’ve put together a list of fabulous items for you!

1. Lush:

Christmas Party Bath Bomb – I love this bomb! It’s orangey and lovely and full of stars and confetti. I admit I put mine in a stocking before dropping it in the bath. But I’m lazy and don’t like to clean stuff out of my tub.

Ma Bar Bubble Bar

And for a relaxing time *after* the bath, try a Soft Coeur Massage Bar!

2. Mason Pearson – Everyone should have one of these hair brushes.

You can buy them on Amazon!
Mason Pearson Hairbrushes

This is the one I have: Mason Pearson Junior Bristle & Nylon Brush – I’ve had it for 14 years and I LOVE it. I also have the pocket version.

3. Bunny slippers! – I previously wrote about my awesome bunny slippers.

This is where you can buy the slippers I have:

For a similar but less pricey version:
try this

try this

4. For fans of Too Faced Cosmetics and Kipling bags:

Kipling Loves Too Faced cosmetic sets! Each comes with Too Faced cosmetics tucked in a Kipling bag!

From Kipling’s Site:

Primp & Party Set: Starry Eyed Liner, Lash Injection Pinpoint Mascara (which I sampled recently – look for an upcoming post about that!), Foiled Liner

Kiss & Run Set: Mood Swing Emotionally Activated Lip Gloss
Diamond Gloss

Envy Me Set: Lash Injection Mascara, Lip Injection Lip Plumper, Pink Leopard Bronzer, Refresh Blotter Papers

Charmed & Glamorous Set: Beauty Balm

From Too Faced:
Too Faced Loves Kipling Set: Lovey Dovey Duo Eye Shadow, Mini Ooh & Aah Starry Eyed Liner, Mini Black Lash Injection, and Mini Colorless Application Shadow Insurance

5. Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty Toaster

Hello Kitty Necklace

Hello Kitty Waffle Maker

Hello Kitty Hair Dryer

Hello Kitty Computer Keyboard

6. Escada Moon Sparkle – This is one of the very few non Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab perfumes that I have ever liked. I *love* this. It’s sort of fruity, sort of floral. I am terrible at describing scents. But this one is lovely. I just keep sniffing myself and sniffing myself.

7. Flowering Tea with Teapot and Warmer – This is so pretty. I would love to have one of these. I have a lot of tea so I haven’t been able to justify buying it. One of these days!

Another fine tea place, Adagio Tea, has all sorts of great stuff. And you can get smaller sizes to sample or mix and match. Bonus!

So there you have it! What are you thinking about buying this year?