Thursday, December 23, 2010

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas...

On the eleventh day of Christmas...make Rudolph cupcakes! I'm a sucker for anything cute and baked goods are no exception. When I saw these in a magazine, I just had to make them!

Rudolph Cupcakes

Rudolph Cupcakes
Use any cupcake recipe, I just used a Betty Crocker yellow cake mix
Use any chocolate icing, I used a Betty Crocker can of chocolate icing
Tootsie roll midges
Red and white m&ms (I used a bag of Christmas mint m&ms that came in red, white and green, the regular Christmas m&ms just come in red and white. You could also buy individual color bags at a craft store but that would have been more expensive)
Mini vanilla wafers
Black gel icing
Icing for adhesive purposes

1. First of all bake the cupcakes, following instructions on the box or your own favorite recipe
2. Allow the cupcakes to cool and then ice them with the chocolate frosting
3. Break pretzels in half and stick them into the cupcakes for the antlers
4. Use 1/3 of a tootsie roll midge to mold each ear
5. Stick on a mini vanilla wafer for the snout
6. Use some icing to stick a red m&m on the wafer for the nose
7. Stick two white m&ms above the wafer for the eyes
8. Dab a dot of black gel icing on each eye for the pupils

*A few notes: These were fun to make but a few things to keep in mind. I bought the cheapest bag of pretzels I could find and making the antlers was a little difficult. Not all pretzels are created equally so I would make sure you're getting a brand that looks most antler like when broken in half. I worked with what I had but it was difficult. Also, molding the ears was a little bit of a task but I definitely think the cupcakes look better with the ears than without. All together it cost about $20 to get all of the supplies to make these but I of course have tons of leftovers of basically everything except the cake mix. I even have half a jar of icing leftover. These were a lot of fun to make and would be a great thing to make with your kids. They also make a cute addition to a Christmas party or on the dessert table at your family dinner.

On the Tenth Day of Christmas...

On the tenth day of Christmas...bake for your dog! Homemade dog treats make a great gift for your friends and family who have pets. There are tons of recipe books out there for homemade dog biscuits and you can even make a do it yourself kit and include some bone shaped cookie cutters. I personally purchased a "Baking for Your Dog" book as a gift and decided to make one of the recipes to go with the book as a gift. The recipe I chose was "Toby's Tuna Triangles" and it was actually more challenging than it looked.

 Toby's Tuna Triangles
1 can of tuna fish in natural juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
9 oz cornflour
5 oz rolled oats
2 oz flour

*My first challenge was actually finding cornflour. After searching two stores, it felt like a lost cause. I went for cornmeal as a substitute and later looked up the difference online. According to a site, the two can be the same depending on where you live.

Drain the tuna in a sieve, then puree it with the oil and the egg in a blender.

*My next challenge was after puree-ing, the mixture was all over the sides of the blender and stuck under the blades. It was hard to salvage much of the puree since there wasn't that much to begin with.

Mix the puree with the other ingredients to make a dough.

*If you notice in the ingredients above, the cornflour, rolled oats, and flour are in oz instead of cups or teaspoons or tablespoons. According to a magnet I have, there are 8 oz in a cup so did one cup of the cornmeal and just guessed on that extra oz. I guessed on the other two and either I over guessed by a lot or wasn't able to salvage enough of the puree to make anything close to a dough. I added an extra egg, some extra olive oil and some water to finally get a dough-like quality.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the baking sheet with baking parchment.

*Not sure if tin foil is a baking parchment but that's what I used.

Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick and cut it into triangles. Place the cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Store in a cookie tin. The triangles will keep for about 2 weeks.

*I don't really have the supplies to roll out dough such as a rolling pin or mat. I opted for an easier "ball" format. I just rolled the dough into balls and lined them on the tin foil lined cookie sheet. I baked them for about 25 minutes and they actually turned out great. I'm not sure about the taste considering they are dog treats but I will give Chloe one as soon as they cool and see how she likes it.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On the Ninth Day of Christmas...

On the ninth day of Christmas...enjoy hot beverages with a twist on a cold night. We all know the classic hot beverages, coffee, hot chocolate and hot apple cider, but here are some recipes to give these classic drinks a fun new twist!

Irish Hot Chocolate
-Add a shot of Irish Cream to your favorite hot cocoa recipe.
-Top with whipped cream or marshmellows for an extra special twist

Irish Coffee
-Add a shot of Irish Cream to your coffee

Soco Cider
-Add a shot of Soco to hot apple cider

Peppermint Hot Chocolate
-Add a shot of peppermint schnapps to hot cocoa
-Stir with a peppermint stick and leave in for added minty goodness

-Top with whipped cream and crumbled candy cane bits

Pumpkin Coffee
-Add a shot of pumpkin liquor to pumpkin spice coffee

Monday, December 20, 2010

On the Eighth Day of Christmas...

On the eighth day of Christmas...make a mixed holiday cd! So I had a revelation today...the majority of holiday cds have a lot of songs worth skipping. Let's face it, Christmas albums can't all be as great as N'Sync's! Ok so we also know that more often than not, when we buy a holiday cd, it's going to have 95% remakes of classic Christmas songs and maybe 5% original songs. And that's ok because who doesn't love classic Christmas songs? The only thing is, we are also going to have a favorite version of everyone of those songs and most likely one artist isn't going to be our number 1 pick for every song. I think aside from the rare beauty of N'Sync's Christmas album, our best shot at listening to a whole album all the way through without skipping a bunch of songs is if we get a compilation cd that is a mix of various artists. But even if we find a good one of those, odds are, it still isn't going to be your perfect mix of your favorite versions of those classics along with your favorite originals. That's where the magic of mp3's and cd burners come into play. You can make your very own special Christmas mix complete with original artwork to all your friends as an awesome gift. Or, to make it even better, you could find out their favorites and make them an even more special present. Since this is a new idea, I need some time to do some research and will include my perfect mix at the end of this blog so stay tuned for an update and rock on!

My Perfect Christmas Mix:
1. All I Want for Christmas- Mariah Carey (no question this is my all time favorite original Christmas song!)
2. Winter Wonderland
3. Let it Snow
4. We Need a Little Christmas
5. Deck the Halls
6. Merry Christmas - N Sync
7. Baby It's Cold Outside
8. Holly Jolly Christmas
9. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
10. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
11. The Christmas Song - Alvin and the Chipmonks
12. It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...

On the Seventh Day of Christmas...make pink champagne cupcakes! My friends and I had so much fun making these. The recipe only calls for a small amount of champagne (or sparkling wine) so you get to drink the rest while making them! We made them over the summer so it wasn't exactly holiday related but I think these make a great festive treat. People enjoy sweets and bubbly during the holidays so why not put your hands together and have the best of both worlds?! It's a super easy Betty Crocker recipe and the results are delicious!

Champagne Cupcakes
1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
1 1/4 cups champagne
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 egg whites
4 to 5 drops red food coloring
Champagne Frosting
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup champagne
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 to 5 drops red food coloring

Pink decorator sugar crystals

Edible pink pearls

Print these coupons...

About Concordance™

  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.
  2. In large bowl, combine dry cake mix and champagne. Add oil, eggs and food color. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  3. Bake 17 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  4. In medium bowl, beat frosting ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Frost cupcakes. Sprinkle with pink sugar and pearls.
Now when we made these it was a late night decision so we were limited on our garnishes. The 24 hour grocery store didn't have pink sugar crystals or edible pink pearls so ours were not as glamorous as the above picture from We used some tubes of colorful icing that I had in my kitchen and made ours a little more fun. We were just making them for fun so it worked. I'd probably aim for the fancier look above if I was making them for an event. Either way they were delicious and a lot of fun to make. Cheers!

On the Sixth Day of Christmas...

On the sixth day of Christmas, make your own personalized Christmas cards. I know there are a lot of websites that you can make your own cards at, I've personally used and it was very affordable. They have a lot of choices with designs and you can personalize it with photos and text. I even was able to design mine and pick it up at the store using 1 hour photo!

Just visit and see all the great choices they have. Pick your favorite design, personalize it and you've got your Christmas card all set!

Sorry this was short but it's a great idea :-)

Friday, December 17, 2010

On the Fifth Day of Christmas...

On the fifth day of Christmas, another fun way to do a themed gift is to make your own gift basket. My idea on the fourth day of Christmas was taking a "boring" gift and making it fun and themed. That example is when the main gift is the dvd or gift card and you're just adding a few bells and whistles to it. A gift basket is a collection of gifts where they all add up into one gift. There are so many gift basket options out there that you can buy pre-made but they're always so expensive. Plus sometimes it's just more fun to make your own. You can honestly make a gift basket out of any theme. That's the beauty of it. Since I used my Secret Santa example from last year, I'll use mine from this year as well. I heard mine really liked garlic so I decided to put together a garlic themed gift basket. I used fresh garlic cloves and a mini chopper to chop them up, garlic sea salt, garlic parmesan dressing, a bar that gets the scent of garlic off your hands and a book all about garlic that included a lot of recipes. Depending on your price range, you can do a big gift basket or a smaller one. If you have a budget, just make sure you're being resourceful in the items you get as the price can add up quickly. You also have to factor in the price of the basket. You can find affordable baskets, but you have to look for them. If you just go to a craft store and pick up the first basket you see, you'll probably spend too much!

Idea: Themed Gift Basket

Choosing the basket: Make sure you have a plan for what you're going to put in the basket before buying the basket. You don't want to get too big of a basket and then it will look empty if you don't have enough items to fill it. On the same note, you don't want a basket that is too small if some of the items you are buying are bigger. I would recommend buying the items first if you can, then searching for the right size basket to put them in. Also, that way you will know how much you have to spend on the basket after you've purchased the actual gifts. You also don't necessarily need to buy a "basket" if you can think of a more creative container that goes along with your theme. For example, if it's a drink theme, you could use an ice tub or cooler or if it's fishing themed, use a tackle box.

Filling the basket: As stated above, make sure that the items you buy fill the basket properly so it looks good. Presentation is half the fun of a gift basket. Make sure all the items are themed, don't just throw random things in unless random is your theme. Also, don't add something that doesn't go with the theme just because you have it and need a little more space to fill. You can use tissue paper or shredded colored paper as fillers for any empty space. You could also find a gift that goes with the theme that helps fill empty space. If you are making a baby themed basket, add a baby blanket to fill that space. Also make sure if you have any breakable items, that they are securely in the basket.

Putting the final touches on the basket: Cellophane, netting (similar to a veil) or shrink wrap are the best ways to "seal" up a basket. If you don't have the proper equipment for shrink wrap, just take cellophane or netting and wrap it around the basket and tie with a ribbon. If you are doing this last minute and don't have either of these choices, you can also tuck tissue paper around the items in your basket or just tie a ribbon or bow on top of the basket.

On the Fourth Day of Christmas...

Sorry I didn't get this posted yesterday. On the fourth day of Christmas I'd like to share a tip on taking a "boring" gift and making it fun and themed. I personally like to give unique gifts with meaning. Whether that means it is a personalized gift or just something I know the person will really like. Well what happens when someone just wants a gift card or a cd or dvd? I mean I can't blame them, I have a huge amazon wishlist of dvds, but I just hate giving a dvd as a gift. It feels so impersonal to me. In order to make it your own, you have to give it a little flare. A perfect example I have for this is my Secret Santa from work last year. We used this program called Elfster that automatically picks everyone's Secret Santa and emails you the name. You can also create wishlists so that your Secret Santa can view it and get you something you want. Well my person had very unrealistic items on their wishlist such as season tickets to the Yankees, a new car, a house, etc. I thought about doing fun gag gifts to represent all the unrealistic wishes but then he also had The Hangover dvd on there. I figured he might really want that since it was the only realistic item on the list. I had to find a way to make it uniquely from me. I hadn't actually seen The Hangover at this point, it had literally just come out on dvd, but I knew it took place in Vegas so I decided to make the gift "Vegas Themed." First I started with the wrapping. I wraped the dvd in plain "grassy green" wrapping paper so it was similar to the color of a table in vegas. Then I printed out pictures of colored poker chips and cut them out and taped them all over the package. Then I bought a pack of cards and an airplane bottle of vodka. I also printed a mini poster of Holly Madison on a craps table. I taped the pack of cards to the package and rolled up the poster and put the mini bottle of vodka inside the poster and taped that on top of the cards. Alcohol, cards, a picture of a hot girl and a funny dvd, what more could a guy want?

Idea: Making a gift themed

Presentation - Find a way to wrap or package the gift so that it goes along with whatever theme you are going for. You can use printed pictures like I did, stickers, clippings from magazines, etc. One time I made a friend a scrapbook for a birthday present and I wrapped in completely in magazine covers of our favorite celebrities.

Accessories - Every girl knows how important it is to accessorize. Find small, inexpensive gifts that go along with the theme that you can decorate the package with or include in the bag, box or basket. If you are giving a dvd like I did, find some items that go along with a theme from the movie or items that are in a certain part of the movie. If I was giving PS I Love You, I might include some stationary or if I was giving ET, include some Reeses Pieces. If you're giving a gift card, maybe add a few small items that the store also sells. Usually most stores have small, inexpensive items by the register. For example if you were giving a Victoria's Secret gift card, throw in a pair of panties or some travel size fragrances or lip glosses.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas...

Along with collecting wine corks with crafts, I also started collecting bottle caps. I thought there would be a lot of fun crafts I could make with them as well but after doing some research, bottle caps were a little more difficult to find ideas for. I did find one idea that I loved. Stemming from the picture frame idea yesterday, on the third day of Christmas, you can make a bottle cap picture frame. I personally love the way these look! They are very creative and you have so many options to make them look different and unique for each person on your list. Below is the picture of the first one I made. My boyfriends mom wanted a picture of me and him so I made her one but liked it so much I had to keep it for myself and make her a different one!

Bottle cap picture frame

Project: Bottle Cap Picture Frame

Supplies Needed:
Bottle Caps (amount needed will vary depending on what words you want to spell out)
Letter stickers or thin markers to write out letters
Colored paper (construction paper or card stock)
Decorative scrapbooking mats or paper
Clear plastic picture frame (usually $1 or $2 at Walmart)

Tools needed:
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Double stick tape (optional)

Step 1: Decide what you're going to spell out on the frame so you know how many bottle caps you need. You can use names or places like "Disney World" or words like "Friends", "Family", etc. The options are limitless!
Step 2: Count out the number of bottle caps you will need to spell out what you want to say and decide what color paper you want to use inside the bottle caps. You can do all one color or every other color or multiple colors.
Step 3: Trace the "top" of a bottle cap onto the colored paper to make the correct number of circles. Use a pencil instead of a pen so it's not permanent.
Step 4: Cut out the circles and glue them on the inside of the bottle caps. (Put them pencil side down in case there are any tracing lines showing)
Step 5: Use letter stickers or write the letters on the inside of the bottle cap. One letter per bottle cap looks best.
Step 6: Glue the bottle caps "top" side down so that the inside with the letters is showing. You can spell out your word horizontal, up and down, etc. I like to make the caps up and down, every other one, to make more room and to make it look more artsy.
Step 7: Use a scrapbooking decorative photo mat in the frame to use as a border. Pick a pattern that has colors that match the colors you used inside the bottle caps. I like to pick a frame that's bigger than the picture I want to put in so that the decorative border shows. If you use a picture that is the exact size of the frame you can skip this step.
Step 8: Insert the photo you want to use inside the frame. If you do use a bigger frame and the matt, I'd recommend using some double stick tape to center the picture on the matt so it doesn't slide. I've also taken multiple smaller printed pictures and made a collage on the matt.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On the Second Day of Christmas...

To keep with the wine cork theme, on the second day of Christmas, I'm going to share a super easy, fun craft that also makes a great, personable gift.

Wine Cork Picture Frame

Craft: Wine Cork Picture Frame

Supplies Needed:
12 Wine corks (amount needed may vary)
Cheap plastic picture frame ($1 or $2 at Walmart)
A print of a favorite photo to go in the frame

Tools Needed:
Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Step 1: Glue wine corks around frame
Step 2: Insert picture in frame

It is literally that easy. I like to use wine corks from the same winery and then put a picture from that winery in the frame. For example, in the picture above, I asked for spare corks at Keswick Vineyards and then the picture in the frame is of me and my boyfriend at the winery. I also gave my brother and his wife a picture of them together at a winery in Seattle with corks that I got from the winery on the frame. You could also mix it up with corks from wines you've tried together or different corks from a wine tour. Another variation of this would be to paint the corks to make the frame colorful. There are so many options!

Monday, December 13, 2010

On the First Day of Christmas...

As promised I am going to do a "12 Days of Christmas" affordable gift ideas blog of things that you can make, bake or put together yourself. I have a whole list of ideas but I haven't tried all of them. I only want to write about ones that I've personally made myself so I'm not just copying and pasting someone else's idea.

So on the First Day of Christmas, I'm going to share my favorite craft idea. A while ago, my boyfriend and I started becoming interested in wine. As we started to try different bottles, I decided to start collecting the corks. I thought it would be fun to figure out some wine cork crafts to do. What really jump started my cork collection was him bringing home a bag of corks from his work where they do wine tasting. That way I actually had enough to make a bunch of things since you have to drink a lot of wine to get your collection started.

So once I had corks, I needed ideas. Visiting a winery a couple years ago, we purchased the cutest reindeer ornament  I believe I paid $6 for it but decided it was a good investment so that I would have a tangible example if I wanted to try and make them myself.

Wine Cork Reindeer Ornament

Craft: Reindeer Ornament
Supplies Needed:
-5 wine corks (you can use cork or rubber corks but need at least one regular cork for the neck)
-Small red pom poms for nose
- Medium pom poms for tail, preferably in Christmas colors (red, green, white)
-Tiny black pom poms for eyes
-Brown pipe cleaners for antlers
-Brown felt for ears
-Thick decorative ribbon for saddle and thin ribbon to hang ornament
Tools Needed:
-Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Step 1: Glue 4 wine corks together to make body and neck (see above picture).
Step 2: Before adding the head, shave the top of the neck using a knife so that the top is slanted.
Step 3: Glue the head on the slanted part so that it is at an angle (see above picture).
Step 4: Cut and shape pipe cleaners to make antlers and glue on head.
Step 5: Cut out 2 ears from felt and glue on back of head.
Step 6: Glue on 2 tiny black pom poms for eyes
Step 7: Glue on small red pom pom for nose
Step 8: Glue on medium pom pom for tail
Step 9: Cut a small piece of decorative ribbon and glue on for saddle
Step 10: Cut a thin piece of ribbon long enough to make a loop, tie it around neck leaving a loop to hang as an ornament.

This is one of those projects that's pretty self explanatory as long as you have an example to look at. You just need to get the basic body and then you can improvise with the add ons for the face, tail, ears, etc. I'm sure there are tons of variations. The first year I discovered these, I gave them as Christmas presents to everyone! They're super cute and fairly easy to make once you have all the supplies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Countdown to Christmas the Crafty Way

I love countdown's to Christmas. Everything from ABC Family's "25 Days of Christmas" to advent calendars to those green and red chains paper chains we used to make in elementary school. I love that as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are packed in the fridge, the whole world turns into a magical snow globe filled with holiday music, movies, shopping, decorating, crafts, baking and gift giving. Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot resist a theme and the holidays give me a whole month of themed bliss. I really wanted to do a blog a day in December to countdown to Christmas but unfortunately I missed the train considering today is December 2. Aside from that, I will also be in Florida for a week starting on Saturday at the Baseball Winter Meetings where I don't count on having much time to blog. So instead, I will offer the more classic "12 Days of Christmas" version which will run from December 13-24. I will feature fun holiday craft and baked good ideas as well as Do It Yourself gifts. To hold you over until then, I offer you the classic countdown to Christmas paper chain project!

Craft: Basic "Countdown to Christmas" Paper Chain
Needed: Colorful paper, scissors, stapler and staples or glue or tape: For the paper you can use any colors: red and green or red, green and white would be the most classic for Christmas. You could also do blue and white for winter. Construction paper works best.
Additional supplies: If you want to spice yours up, use glitter, holiday stickers, photos, markers, crayons, etc to decorate the chain.

Step 1: Cut out 25 strips of paper: 1 for every day from December 1 until December 25 (Christmas).
Step 2 (optional): If you'd like to decorate the individual strips, you can add glitter, stickers, quotes, wishes, etc. before linking them to make a chain.
Step 3: Take the first strip and make it into a circle; staple, tape or glue the ends together.
Step 4: Take the second strip and loop in through the first strip and staple, tape or glue. If you're using multiple colors, make sure to go every other one. (see photo above)
Step 5: Repeat Step 4 until finished.

You can use your chain as a decoration by wrapping it around your tree or railing on your staircase or just hanging it on the wall by your bed, calendar or in a doorway. The goal is to remove a link each day until Christmas as a fun countdown.

Stay tuned for my "12 Days of Christmas" blog and Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sampleicious Pot Luck: The Search for the Perfect Moisturizer Part 3 and More

As I've mentioned in the past, I love Sephora and love getting all of their free samples when I order something on their website. I've gathered quite the collection of samples but haven't been proactive about actually sampling the products. Sometimes you just need the right motivation to step aside from your daily routine and actually try new products. Now my first few "Sampleicious" reviews were specifically on moisturizers and were from a sample set that I purchased so the samples were "deluxe" samples which means they are bigger and will actually last a week or two. Most of my samples are little packets that are good for 1 or 2 uses. This does make it tougher to actualy get a gauge of if the product works or not but it's still great to feel the consistency, get a whiff of the scent, etc.

Above I mentioned finding the right motivation to actually try some of these samples. My motivation stems from cold weather, super dry skin, and one of those crazy people that won't leave you alone at the mall. I'm sure the end of that sentence needs a little explaining. I know all the ladies know what I'm talking about. When you're walking through the mall and a woman or man approaches you asking to see your nails. They might start by giving you a sample of lotion and if you take it, they have you hooked. Because I've been through this before, I usually don't take the sample or make eye contact with these people because they're very nice and I don't want to be rude but I don't want what they're selling and once they have you hooked they won't leave you alone. Well they caught me on a day when I was on a mission to try and find men's white flip flops the last weekend in October. Obviously this was a tough task and I was very distracted trying to decide what stores to look in and I made the mistake of taking the sample. The woman had baited and hooked me and because I didn't want to be rude, I let her reel me in. I told her right away, I already have that nail buffer thing they say is so magical and I honestly never use the thing. I thought I could get rid of her quickly because I thought that's all they were selling. Much to my suprise, she had a back up plan. Before I knew it, she had my sleeve rolled up and was rubbing dead see minerals on my wrist showing me how it slothed off dead skin cells and how moisturizer doesn't work properly without exfoliating your face twice a week. Now if I had some extra money, she may have gotten me, especially after she kept bringing the price down (never take the first offer from these people!) but I didn't so she wasted her time. However, she did plant the seed in my mind that I needed some sort of facial scrub so that my moisturizer would work properly. Especially since I am in the process of finding a new moisturizer, I want to give each sample a fair test on a fresh face.

So there was my motivation. I sifted through my samples to see if I had any facial scrub, mask, peel or exfoliant and came across Kate Somerville Exfolikate. I immediately started running the warm water, read the directions and began making circular motions with the grainy green substance all over my face. It burned a little and my face was red after rinsing but that was to be expected after rubbing a harsh substance in circular motions on your skin and the redness and stinging sensation didn't last long. Ultimately my face felt fresher and moisturizer ready after using this product. This product is very pricey, you can get .5 oz for $19 but for the full 5 oz size product, it's $175! I need to keep looking for an exfoliant because this is way out of my price range but since you are only supposed to use it twice a week, I'm sure a full size once would last you a while! Below is the fitting description from

ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment

What it is:
A dual action exfoliation method.
What it is formulated to do:
Kate Somerville ExfoliKate® Intensive Exfoliating Treatment is Kate's top-selling product, and the next best thing to seeing Kate in the Clinic! Treat yourself to this at-home facial for fantastic, instant results. This signature formula works both physically and enzymatically to deliver safe, dramatic results in one application. It effectively combats acne and blackheads, reduces discoloration, and polishes skin for a smooth complexion. Welcome to healthy skin, a healthy glow, and a healthy you!
What else you need to know:
This expert formula harnesses the power of fruit enzymes to clarify skin by removing dead cells and eliminating bacteria. It is ideal for all skin types, except sensitive skin.

After sampling the exfoliant, I needed a moisturizer to finish my at home facial. I thought I had grabbed one but I actually had a similar looking sample that was an eye cream. I decided to try that first. It was Ole Henriksen Visual Truth Eye Cream. I believe an eye cream is one of those products that you feel better using, but I'm not sure how easy it is to see the results. Eye creams are probably more for long term use to save your eyes from wrinkles than instant visualization. Either way, this one felt nice on my skin and you only need to use a very tiny bit since the eye area is small so the sample actually lasted me all weekend. The one issue I had with this eye cream was I tried to put it on before bed one night and got a little in my eye, my eyes were watering for like 20 minutes it burned so bad. So be careful and don't put this product on when tired where you might make a mistake and get some on the inside of your eye. It's $45 for .5 oz but the eye area is small so this should last you a long time.

Visual Truth Eye Creme

Acting as a second skin this extra rich eye creme utilizes powerful humectants to bind moisture to the cells as it provides intense free radical protection to help prevent further damage. It instantly provides lift and resiliency to the delicate tissue surrounding the eyes, promoting elasticity and muscle tone to keep wrinkles at bay.

After using the eye cream, I popped open the matching moisturizer. This one is Ole Henriksen Express the Truth. This moisturizer felt really good on my face. I think it had an advantage because I had just exfoliated so any moisturizer may have felt great after that. This one does not have an SPF so it may not be what I was looking for but while marked unscented, it has a very pleasant scent to it and includes ingrediants such as African Red Tea and Vitamin C which appeal to me. It's $65 for 1.7 oz so it is quite pricey but again you don't need a lot per use even though you're covering your whole face.

Moisturizer # 3:

Ole Henriksen Express The Truth, $65 for 1.7 oz 

This truly superior antioxidant moisturizer helps your skin resist the formation of new wrinkles as it works through the night to repair existing fine lines and wrinkles. This ultra hydrating rich texture creme is packed with nature's most powerful antioxidants like ester C and African red tea to help to calm and soothe the skin as well as fight off environmental aggressors and free radical damage. Dry skin will be hydrated, lifted, and protected utilizing a synergy of ingredients like all natural macadamia nut oil, a deeply nourishing extract that works to repair skin during the night and polylysine, a unique all-natural peptide that greatly improves skins elasticity and muscle tone which inhibit deep wrinkles from forming.

The final sample I tried this past weekend was Laura Geller Lip Strip Cooling Sugar Scrub. I always have issues with dry or chapped lips so I'm addicted to trying any new lip products, especially ones that promise softer smoother lips. In the past I've used Mary Kay's Satin Lip Set and I used to be a big fan of it but I think I'm ready to see what else is out there. I've been saving this sample for a while now and I was finally ready to take the plunge. The one mistake I made was trying it after putting moisturizer on my face. A lip scrub can get a little messy around the edges so it's best to wait to put any products on your face until after using the scrub so you don't have moisturizer running down your chin. Aside from that minor mistake, I was very pleased with the scrub. You need very little so a small pot of this would last a long time. You just rub circular motions on your lips with the scrub and then rinse with warm water. My lips definitely felt softer after 1 use so I can imagine it would be even better using this product on a regular basis. Now the weird thing is, I am pretty sure I got this sample from Sephora where I get all my samples, but they don't seem to sell the brand or at least not anymore. After some googling, I did find this product at QVC, Amazon and Macy's along with some other sites ranging from $15-$19 for a 1 oz pot. Below is a description from QVC.

Laura Geller Lip Strip
Why is it different: This delicious formula blends cosmetic quality Brazilian sugar, a natural and mild exfoliant that smoothes and soothes, with peppermint and spearmint oils, which provide an invigorating, cooling sensation without irritation, in a creamy base. Loaded with lubricating butters, this soothing and effective treatment will help to smooth away dry, flaky skin on lips. Plus, it's so natural, you can actually lick it off!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall in Love with Pumpkins

Fall is definitely my favorite season. There are just so many things to love about it! From the crisp cool weather to the colorful falling leaves, fall is full of fun little surprises. One of the best surprises of all is the variety of pumpkin flavored options that places carry during this very festive season. It started small, I drove by Shady Brook Farm one day to see a sign that said "Pumpkin Ice Cream in 1 day!" Needless to say the idea of Pumpkin Ice cream intrigued me and I decided I must make a trip back a couple days later, pleased to find the sign now read "Pumpkin Ice Cream is Here."

Well apparently Pumpkin Ice Cream is a gateway drug because shortly after that I was buying Pumpkin Spice coffee for my k-cup machine and enjoying Pumpkin pancakes from IHOP. That's not to mention sampling the many pumpkin beers that are out there between beer samplers at the Hulmeville Inn and my beer loving boyfriend Gary buying bottles from his work. So somewhere between stuffing my face with pumpkin pancakes and guzzling down Pumpkin Spice coffee to start my day, I decided it would be a fun goal this fall to try as many pumpkin flavored items as possible. So far here's what I've accomplished:

Item: Uncle Dave's Gourmet Pumpkin Ice Cream
Where to find: Shady Brook Farm, Yardley, PA

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I saw the sign for Pumpkin Ice Cream, I just knew that I wanted to try it! It definitely did not disappoint. It was delicious and creamy and had a perfect pumpkin taste to it! It wasn't trying too hard to be something it's not. I shared a regular with Gary but I probably could have enjoyed a whole one myself! I think I remember seeing some pumpkin ice cream at the grocery store so I'd be interested to compare. If that fails, I may have to get a quart from Shady Brook Farm to take home while it's still available!

Item: Green Mountain Coffee Pumpkin Spice K-Cups
Where to find: I purchased mine at Kohl's but you can probably find it most places K-Cups are sold

I think Pumpkin Spice Coffee is one of the most cliche yet delicious pumpkin flavored items that you can find during this wonderful season. I bet if Family Feud asked you to name something that comes in a pumpkin flavor not including pie, coffee or latte would be the number 1 answer! I think almost everyone who's cared to has tried Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte or is at least aware of its' existence. The best part about these k-cups is delicious pumpkin spiced coffee right at home! It's more affordable AND you don't have to get up extra early to stop and get coffee on your way to work.
Item: Pumpkin Pancakes
Where to find: IHOP

What's not to love? Pumpkins? Good! Pancakes? Goood! Pumpkin Pancakes? Fantastic! IHOP is pretty much amazing and I love their seasonal pancake options. I hope to make it back at least one more time for another tasty stack of these pumpkin treats before the season is over. I am also looking forweard to their gingerbread pancakes though!

Item: Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino and Pumpkin Muffin
Where to find: Wawa
As I mentioned above, pumpkin flavored hot beverages are quite cliche when it comes to seasonal specialties in the Fall. Fortunately, cliche doesn't really matter when something tastes amazing and the Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino from Wawa is no exception. I decided to try one of these after reading how good it was on a friend's Facebook status. Since that first taste, I've had quite a few of these suckers thanks to there being a Wawa on every corner around where I live and the fact that they're super affordable! During one of my many recent Wawa trips, I also decided to try a Pumpkin Muffin which I saw in their fresh bakery box. The muffin wasn't anything special, but it was tasty. I hear Dunkin Donuts has an awesome pumpkin muffin but the one time I tried to get one they were out.

Item: Pumpkin Spiced Latte, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin & Pumpkin Scone
Where to find: Starbucks
Again you really can't mention pumpkin anything without thinking of Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks. Starbucks used to be my go to place for my pumpkin spice fix each fall until I discovered a whole new world of pumpkin possibilites out there. Even though I've had it before, I decided I still needed to notch off this classic from my growing pumpkin belt loop. The "growing" can have multiple meanings for instance, my growing list of pumpkin options or my growing waistline from trying all of these pumpkin treats! While there I saw two delicious pumpkin baked goods so I purchased them both. A pumpkin cream cheese muffin and a pumpkin scone. I chose the scone to have with my latte and decided to save the muffin for breakfast. The latte was good, pretty much what I remembered however having tried it after the Pumpkin Spice Cappicuno from Wawa, I have to say the Wawa one is better, hands down! It's half the price and has double the flavor! As for the scone, it might quite possibly be the best thing I've ever tasted! If not, it definitely wins for best pumpkin flavored anything and it's only $1.99. The pumpkin cream cheese muffin was ok, similar to the Wawa one, it was nothing special. Mine was a day old so it wasn't fresh but I feel like I still got the general idea of it. Based on their website, Starbucks also has pumpkin bread that I need to try as well as their pumpkin spice iced latte and creme frappacino.

Item: Pumpkin Iced Coffee
Where to find: Dunkin Donuts

These days when you're talking about coffee, it'd be hard to imagine Dunkin Donuts not coming up in conversation. I mean it's in their catch phrase "America Runs on Dunkin" and it's the truth! I think about 95% of the time I see someone at work have a coffee cup, it's from DD. And who can blame America for "running on Dunkin?" They have truly branded themselves as an affordable beverage option that has something for everyone. From iced to frozen to hot, they have a plethera of flavors and choices for beverages and their food options go way beyond donuts. I originally stopped by to try that Pumpkin Muffin I'd heard was so tasty only to find an empty bin behind the sign. I glanced around noticing an empty bin behind the pumpkin donut sign as well. I half heartedly asked the worker if they had any pretty much expecting the "we're all out" answer I received. I was about to walk away empty handed when I realized that they most likely had some pumpkin coffee options for me to try. I decided on a Pumpkin Iced Coffee which I proceeded to suck down like it was going out of style! I also ended up trying their pumpkin muffin which was delicious! I liked it better than the Wawa and Starbucks pumpkin muffins that I tried.

Item: Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pumpkin Spice Flavor
Where to find: I found it at Giant but I'm sure other grocery stores have it as well

Ok so I'm sure you'd be shocked to know it after reading this blog, but fall isn't all about pumpkins! I know, I know but it's true. Crispy, tart apples are also a fall favorite. There's fresh apple barrels being sold on the side of the road and hot apple cider and all that jazz. Wondering what this has to do with Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese? While doing some grocery shopping, I came upon a package of Thomas': Season's Best Apple Cinnamon bagels. Thinking they sounded scrumptious, I scooped them up and ran over to check out the cream cheese situation. This was going to be one of those impulse buys as I was on my way to the register so I was in a hurry. First thing I see in the cream cheese isle is the pumpkin flavor so I of course get caught in a major delimma. In my mind the two wouldn't mix very well so I was going to have to choose. With little debate I of course ultimately chose the pumpkin cream cheese, grabbed a bag of (much cheaper) Giant brand bagels and headed to the register. Thinking back on it, trying the two together may have actually tasted good, but you can't live in the past. The Pumpkin cream cheese is delicious and I have no regrets!

Item: Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
Where to find: Total Wine & More in Cherry Hill, NJ - or other liquor stores

Since my boyfriend works at a beer, wine and liquor store, I decided to ask him what kind of pumpkin alcohol they had other than beer. He bought me a bottle of "Pumpkin Liquor." There were two recipes on the back, one for an Autumn Russian and one for a Pumpkin Martini. I decided to try the Autumn Russian, it is basically a White Russian with Pumpkin Liqeur added. We had airplane bottles of vodka and a Kahlua knockoff so it was perfect. We also didn't have any cream so we used milk instead. It was still delicious and was a really cool color with the dark Kahlua and bright orange color combining in the glass. I later tried this drink again using pre-made White Russian drinks so it was much easier and had the exact ingrediants. I haven't tried the Pumpkin Martini but have a little left so I might do that. I think it's pretty much just vodka and the Pumpkin Liquer shaken over ice and strained into a martini glass.

Item: Kelloggs Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts (Limited Edition)
Where to Find: Target, I also see them on Amazon but at $10 for a box of 12, that seems a little pricey!
I didn't personally find these in a store but was told they were sold at Target in Fredericksburg, VA so I had my mom pick me up a couple boxes. These were delicious! They are exactly what you'd expect, poptarts with pumpkin pie flavored filling and they were awesome! I wish I could find more but haven't seen them at any of the stores I shop at around my apt. They are Limited Edition so if you find a box, buy them!

Item: Pumpkin Creme Brulee
Where to find: I tried it at Soup & Taco in Fredericksburg, VA but I'm sure multiple restaurants have it in the fall

If you enjoy creme brulee and you enjoy pumpkin flavored goodness, then you're going to love pumpkin creme brulee! It is absolutely delicious! The best part about creme brulee is tapping it and hearing that crackling sound. It's one of those simple joys in life. Has anyone ever seen the movie Amelie? Enough said. The one I had was a little burnt on top but it was still delicious. I think regular creme brulee can be a little boring aside from the sugary crackling top part so I enjoy trying any new twists and flavors on the classic dessert.

Item: Pumpkin Cupcake with Pumpkin Icing
Where to find: I tried mine at Colonial Cupcakes in Fredericksburg, VA, I also bought a mix at World Market that I haven't made yet

This cupcake was very tasty. At $3 each it better have been! It is similar to pumpkin spiced bread if you've tried that but the fact that the icing was pumpkin flavored as well made it extra delicious! I look forward to making my own pumpkin cupcakes with the mix from World Market. I also bought a Pumpkin Spiced Soup and bar of Pumpkin Spiced soap there.

Item: Pumpkin Pie
Where to find: My mom purchased our Thanksgiving pumpkin pie from Costco this year.

Of course classic pumpkin pie is a must on Thanksgiving! There are tons of different recipes and ways to try it. This year my mom went the Costco route. While it wasn't homemade, it was still delicious and we topped it off with some homemade whipped cream!

If anyone knows of any other pumpkin flavored items I can try and where to find them, please let me know! And also let me know if you tried any of the items mentioned above and how you liked them. I hope you fall in love with pumpkins as much as I did this season :-)

See also: Fall in Love with Pumpkins 2k11

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Fun & Easy Drink Recipe!

Like any normal girl, I enjoy a fun, fruity frozen drink every once in a while, especially on a hot summer day! I love trying new drink recipes but sometimes they can include a lot of ingrediants which can be expensive! The other day I visited First Energy Stadium in Reading, PA for the first time. I love baseball and am trying to visit as many ballparks as I can. This being my first time at this stadium, I wanted to walk around and explore everything they had to offer as well as try some specialty food and drinks they had to offer. In our wandering around the stadium, my friend and I walked by this sign:

Being a huge fan of mango, pomegranate and slushies I was sold! It was very hot outside and these drinks sounded extra appealing! The biggest decision I had to make was which flavor I wanted. Because I'd already had some ice cream that night, I decided to go with Pomegranate as Mango can sometimes be a little too sweet.

Mike's Slushie

While I'm sure either choice would have been fabulous, the pomegranate definitely didn't disappoint! It was delicious and refreshing. A little pricey for what it was ($6.50) but not bad for ballpark prices where a bottled beer is $5.25. It also came complete with an umbrella and lei so that's always fun!

Now here's the exciting part: this drink is super easy to make at home!

Drink: Mike's Pomegranate Punch Slushy (can easily be made in other flavors)


1 bottle of Mike's Pomegranate Punch (or any Mike's flavored drink)
Blender or Margarita Machine

1) Pour bottle of Mike's into blender
2) Add Ice
3) Blend until smooth
4) Pour into cup, add straw, umbrella and enjoy!

As stated in the title of this blog, fun and easy but quite tasty! I'm not a big fan of the Mike's/Smirnoff Ice type drink by itself but as a frozen drink they're quite refreshing!

Sample-icious: The Search for the Perfect Moisturizer Part 2

In review of my first blog searching for the perfect moisturizer: My current moisturizer doesn't include an SPF which I’ve read is an important component to have in a daily face cream so I decided I wanted to test the waters to see if there was something else out there. That way if you’re not at an outdoor event where you would consciously put sunscreen on such as the beach or a picnic, you still have some protection. Along with some various free samples I’ve stocked up on, I also bought a Moisturizer Sampler from Sephora that had sample tubes of various best sellers. I’m starting to try them one by one to see if I am ready to make the leap into changing my daily moisturizer. The first one I tried was Korres Wild-Rose 24 Hour Moisturizer. I really liked it although I felt it was a little pricey at $35 for 1.4 oz and it also the full size product comes in a pot where I prefer a tube or pump. I liked it enough though that it's definitely on my list of possibilities. Once I finished my sample tube of that, I decided to try a Bliss product next.

Moisturizer # 2:

Bliss Best of Skintentions® Daily Moisturizer SPF 15, price $35 for 1.7 oz

Looking completely from a product information standpoint, Bliss's Best of Skintentions® Moisturizer is an imporvement upon the Korres Wild Rose Moisturizer. While both products are $35, the Bliss one does include a little more for the money (a whole .2 oz more), comes in a tube as opposed to a pot and has a higher SPF at 15 compared to SPF 6. While all of these "improvements" are fine and dandy, that's also where they end.

Similar to wine tasting, aside from the description, the first impression you get of a moisturizer is smell and Bliss fails immediately. It has a strange scent to it, not sure how to describe it but it's definitely more simlar to a sunscreen than a moisturizer. One of those smells you would put up with on the beach so your face won't fry off but wouldn't want to experience on a daily basis. It's a smell you'd expect with SPF 50 but definitely too strong for a SPF 15. The next thing you notice about a moisturizer is the texture and feel of it on your fingers first and then how smoothly it applies to your face. This one felt a little thicker than I would like for a moisturizer inbetween my fingers and felt almost griddy when applying it to my face. Everytime I put it on I had to check in the mirror five times to make sure I had rubbed it in all the way. It wasn't crazy thick, but just enough that I know it's not right for me.

The description on Sephora's website reads:

"Bliss Best of Skintentions® is a moisturizer on a mission to provide beautifully healthy skin—today, tomorrow, and beyond. Invest in your complexion with this formula's powerful sun and antioxidant protection, essential illuminating phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that work together to keep your skin safe and smooth"

While this description sounds appealing and may have encouraged me to buy the product blindly, after using the sample, I definitely don't think it fits. My skin definitely does not feel healthier by using it and honestly the smell alone probably would keep me away from every buying it. I have only used it a few times so I can't say for sure that it wouldn't improve your skin over time but my initial experiences with it were all negative. I honestly can't tell much of a difference feeling my face before and after using the product which to me means it doesn't do much as a moisturizer.

Final say: While it might be right for someone else, this product is not right for me! It will not go on my list of possibilites for the perfect moisturizer. Korres Wild-Rose 24 Hour Moisturizer is still in the lead!

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Obsession: Lip Balm Status

So I'm in love. As I mentioned in my first "Sample-icious" blog, I am obsessed with Sephora and all their great samples. Well as a Sephora Beauty Insider, I get emails from Sephora and whether it be a new product or a special offer code, more often than not the emails will include some enticing tid bit to get me on This time it was their special 5 free samples with any order instead of the usual 3 free samples. Once I picked out my 5 samples, I had to find something to order. I always check their weekly specials first to see if they have any good deals, which they always do! Right away Pangea Lip Balm for $6 popped out at me. Since lip balm is an every day necessity, I'm addicted to trying new ones. I was already intrigued by the $6 lip balm (normally $12) but the fact that it was organic and lavender sealed the deal. So once it arrived in the mail, I was definitely not let down! I was pleasantly surprised at the size of it, sometimes things that you order online can be tiny but this was bigger than a normal tube of chapstick and when I opened the cap, the lavender smell was very pleasing, not overwhelming at all. Also, when I rubbed it on my lips, it made them feel very soft and smooth. Some lip balms can be waxy or leave a residue but this one doesn't at all. I have fallen in love with this product, so much so that I had to blog about it right away. I hope this is the first of many sticks I will purchase although knowing me, I'll still try any new lip balm that catches my eye whether it be on or while browsing Wal-mart, Target or some other store.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Arts and Crafts Status: Centerpiece Making 101

Hokie candy centerpiece

Project: Candy Stick Centerpiece
Needed Supplies:
-Circus Hard Candy Sticks - 7 inches long, 3/8 diameter - I used 16 per centerpiece
-Ribbon to tie around candy sticks: Any color/type of ribbon you would like to use to make bows for candy sticks
-Vase: A 4-6 inch tall vase works best, square shaped
-Shredded Cellaphane or mylar: Used to fill the vase
-Ribbon to go around vase: A thicker ribbon to wrap around the vase, 2-3 colors ideal

So I am totally an event planner at heart. Anyone who knows me knows that I simply cannot resist a good theme. If an event or holiday has any potential to be themed, I will find it. This includes decorating my apartment, my clothing and accessories...I even used to get my braces ruberbands colored to match whatever holiday took place that month: orange and black for October, red and green for Christmas, etc. And it's not just holidays, I once had a Snake Island themed party which included a showing of snake island, fake rubber snakes everywhere, luau themed plates, cups, leis, and snake bite drinks! And this was for 5 people! Imagine how much fun I'd have planning a big event! While I'm not planning the event, my brother is having a second wedding reception that is going to be Virginia Tech Hokie themed. Him and his wife were married in Montana in March and not a lot of people from our family and friends could make the trip so they are holding a reception in Virginia to celebrate their marriage with my brother's family and friends who couldn't make the original wedding. Wanting to help, I voluteered my creativity and labor to make the centerpieces for the tables. My mom didn't want to purchase expensive floral arrangements so I went straight to work on finding ideas that didn't include flowers or not too many. On E!'s The Girls Next Door, Bridget thew Kendra a candy themed baby shower and made really cool candy centerpieces for the event. Thinking back on this I looked up different ideas for candy centerpieces. After showing my mom my ideas, we agreed on one made of candy sticks. This way the centerpieces double as a little take home gift as everyone can take a candy stick. Practical and tasty! I observed some pictures of some samples and got straight to work on finding the products I needed to complete my task.

Shopping for Supplies:
I started by tracking down the proper candy sticks as they would be the main component of my centerpieces. Because I specifically wanted orange and maroon colored candy sticks, I knew I needed to look online as old fashioned candy sticks are hard to find in stores these days and if found, color choices are most likely limited. I came across a website I originally came across regular old fashioned candy sticks which are 5 inches tall and 1/4 inch in diameter. At first I thought they were perfect because looking at the Butterscotch flavor, it looks orange and maroon, the two colors I was looking for wrapped up in 1 stick!

After thinking about it though, I realized that these might be a little too small. At the bottom of the website, it came up with a suggestion of things you might also like: Circus Hard Candy Sticks. These were 7 inches long and 3/8 inches in diameter, a much better option to fill up a vase for a centerpiece. The only problem: I didn't see my orange and maroon butterscotch stick. There was a butter rum that had potential but instead I decided on two flavors, orange cream and black cherry.

I went ahead and placed the order along with the small butterscotch ones, figuring I could add in some small ones to fill out the centerpieces. The next day we received a call saying the orange cream were out of stock and might not be back in for 6 weeks! That was too long but luckily there was an orange flavor that would work. Candy sticks, check. Ultimately when the candy sticks arrived, the butterscoth ones were yellow and maroon so I ended up not being able to use them. They didn't match the color in the picture at all! Next I needed to work on getting ribbon, shredded cellaphane, and vases. I knew that my centerpieces were going to be Virginia Tech themed so I wanted to get Virginia Tech Ribbon to wrap around the vases. I googled Hokie Ribbon and came across a 3 ribbon pack from The 3 ribbon pack included Hokie Ribbon, Orange Ribbon, and Maroon ribbon, a strand of each.

This would have been perfect except that it only included 24" of each color which would have been too expensive considering I was making 12 centerpieces. Just the Hokie Ribbon was 3 yards for only $2 more so this was definitely a better deal. I figured I could find some 3 yard rolls of orange and maroon ribbon at a craft store.

So I went ahead and ordered two rolls of the Hokie ribbon from the website and moved onto the next step: the rest of the ribbon and the vases. I found the vases at AC Moore. They were angled as opposed to perfectly square but the price comparison was enough that I went ahead and purchased the angled ones. The only real issue is measuring the ribbon to go around the vases is a little harder. I also purchased 6 rolls of a sheer orange ribbon and six of a sheer burgandy which was the closest to maroon I could find at Michael's. After making 6 centerpieces I did end up having to go back and get 6 more rolls of each. I also purchased a couple rolls of thicker orange and maroon ribbon to wrap around the vases with the hokie ribbon. I also purchased 6 bags of shimmery white/clear shredded cellophane.
1. First I measured out what size I wanted the pieces of ribbon to be to make the bows that were going to go around the candy sticks. After some trial and error, I picked a good length and cut pieces or orange and maroon ribbon until I had a nice pile.
2. Next I counted out 16 candy sticks, 8 black cherry and 8 orange for my first centerpiece.
3. Then I took a vase and filled it about half full of shredded cellophane. I used about half a bag for each centerpiece.
4. I then one by one began to tie a bow around each candy stick. I used orange ribbon to tie bows around the black cherry candy sticks and maroon ribbon to tie bows around the orange candy sticks. I liked the contrast doing it this way. You could have done the opposite and had all orange and all maroon but I didn't.
5. As I tied the bows I placed the candy sticks in the vase and tried to go every other one with the colors until the vase was full.
6. Finally I measured out the Hokie ribbon along with the thicker orange and maroon ribbon to go around the vase. At first I got it where I wanted it by using scotch tape. That of course didn't hold and looked tacky in the back. I then made a couple just using a dot of hot glue on each end of the ribbon. This way made the ribbon stick out a little in some spots so I started doing a line of hot glue across the whole piece of ribbon and slowly glued each piece around the entire vase. I decided to make some where the orange ribbon was on top, Hokie in the middle, and maroon on the bottom and others with the maroon ribbon on top, Hokie in the middle and orange on the bottom.

Hokie Wedding Reception Centerpiece

Above is a picture of the centerpiece on the table. I made little cards with pictures of the bride and groom along with their contact information for everyone to take. We displayed the cards in a circle around the centerpiece and it looked nice. A few have been taken once this picture was snapped.

All in all this project is a little time consuming but turned out well. It is also a little pricey once you add up all of the materials but it serves as a centerpiece and a take home gift since people can take the candy sticks home with them after the reception.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sample-icious: The Search for the Perfect Moisturizer

Fact: People love free stuff. Trust me I know. I work in Minor League Baseball and anytime we have a giveaway, people go crazy for it! Being a human being, I can't say I'm much different. And as a female, free samples are one of our favoirte things! A long time ago when I found out that if you order online at Sephora, you can get 3 free samples with every order, I was instantly hooked! It's funny because if you know me, you probably know that I'm the type of girl that doesn't care much about my appearance on a day to day basis. Sure I shower, brush my teeth and comb my hair but I definitely choose sleep over any sort of rigid morning beauty routine. I'm always arriving places with a wet head and a naked face. However, if I actually have time, say on a Saturday off or before going out at night, I turn into any other girl, going the full hair, makeup and lotion routine. So while it can be rare, I still love sampling all sorts of products and investing in the ones I find worthwhile. Through all of my shopoholic ordering on, I've accumulated quite a collection of samples and haven't truly had the time to try them all out. I hope to change that in the near future and will post my thoughts and reviews on here.

Everybody Mosturizes:

Even someone such as myself who doesn't have much of a daily beauty routine beyond the basics needs a reliable mositurizer. One day a few years ago, I was going on an interview in New York City and of course I was crazy early because I didn't want to get lost in the big city. I noticed that my face was really dry that day so I wondered into a Sephora on my way to the interview. I wasn't looking to spend a lot of money because I just needed a dab to swipe on my face. I found a small bottle of Clinque Dramatically Different Moisturizer. After using it, I fell in love, bought a full size bottle and that became my go to face lotion ever since. Recently I decided I wanted to test the waters to see if there was something else out there. As much as I love my Dramatically Different Moisturizer, it doesn’t include an SPF which I’ve read is an important component to have in a daily face cream. That way if you’re not at an outdoor event where you would consciously put sunscreen on such as the beach or a picnic, you still have some protection. Along with some various free samples I’ve stocked up on, I also bought a Moisturizer Sampler from Sephora that had sample tubes of various best sellers. I’m starting to try them one by one to see if I am ready to make the leap into changing my daily moisturizer.

Moisturizer #1:

Korres Wild-Rose 24 Hour Moisturizer SPF 6, price $35 for 1.4 oz

The first one I decided to try was Korres Wild-Rose 24 Hour Moisturizer. While the sample came in a tube, it appears that the full size product comes in a jar. That may hold me back slightly just because I’m not a big fan of using products that come in a pot or jar. When I dip my fingers in, I always get lotion or lip balm stuck in my finger nails when using products that come packaged in this way. If I really loved it though, I suppose I would still get it. It has an SPF of 6 which isn’t much, but I think is perfect for a daily moisturizer. It’s $35 for 1.4 oz which is a little expensive but we will see how it compares to other similar products.

From the first time I used this product, I was a big fan. When you squirt it on your finger (remember the sample did come in a tube even if the full size product doesn’t), you instantly smell a light rose scent that is very pleasant but wouldn’t overwhelm your perfume, body spray or body lotion. It also has a light feel to it which is perfect for a moisturizer. You definitely don’t want a heavy face lotion that feels like a mud mask when you put it on. The Korres Wild-Rose was very easy to apply and rub in and it leaves your face feeling smooth and soft. The description on Sephora’s website reads:

"An extraordinary, 24-hour intensive moisturizer for normal and dry skin, Wild Rose has a rich, yet light texture and a unique blossom scent, plus whitening wild rose oil and an SPF 6 to help prevent brown spots caused by sun damage."

I agree that this is an accurate portrayal of the product and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested. The sample only got me through a few days, but I think it was enough to put it on my list of maybes. I’m excited to try more of my samples and eventually choose my next daily moisturizer!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Few Good Books

I love to read but somehow I got out of the habbit the past however many years. Just recently I decided to make a real effort to start reading again. I actually own a lot of books that I had never gotten around to reading along with some good books that I would enjoy re-reading. That's not to mention all the movies that are coming out based on books where I often like to read the book first, knowing that it will always be better than the movie! Below are some reviews on some books I have recently finished.

LA Candy Book Review

I am a huge Lauren Conrad fan, from Laguna Beach to The Hills, I have always idolized her. She's actually one of the top people I'd like to meet. I have a lot of respect for everything she's done in her career outside of reality tv and I love her style. I am looking forward to her style book coming out next fall. Because of who Laruen is, I automatically bought her book without even thinking about it. I actually started to read it over the summer and just never got around to finishing it. This has nothing to do with the book being lame, just simply that I was not in reading mode this summer. Once I started it over recently, I had trouble putting it down! They say not to judge a book by its' cover but this book is as guilty of a please as it's sugary sweet exterior. This book is about two girls who move to LA and get invited to be on a show that is geared to be a "reality version of Sex and the City" while following the lives of 4 girls in LA. While it is clearly a fictional story, Laruen has admitted to "writing what you know" and gives some insightful looks into the life of a reality tv star including fake friends being forced together, getting mic'd in the parking lot before going into clubs, perfectly lit scenes and getting prompts via text in what to say and talk about while living your life on camera. While this book is geared more towards teens, as a 24 year old, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, being the first of three books, it actually ended with me begging for more. Thankfully I waited to read it until right before the next book, Sweet Little Lies, hit store shelves...

Sweet Little Lies Book Review

In Sweet Little Lies, Lauren does a great job of continuing to develop the characters from her first hit, LA Candy. This second installment of the three book series picks up right where the first book left off. I did notice some repetition between the two books but I think it was done tastefully, just a way to explain certain incidents and situations that happened in LA Candy to refresh the minds of readers who may not have read them so close together or, for that rare reader who may have never read the first book. I think I may have read this book even faster than the first one, always eager to know what was going to happen next! One thing I love about the way both of these books were written is that all of the chapter titles include a line from within the chapter. After reading the chapter title, my mind immediately starts wondering where that chapter is going to lead. I also like the fact that different chapters are from different characters' point of view. It definitely gives certain characters more depth instead of a typical one person or third person point of view. I also recently heard that Lauren sold the rights to an LA Candy Movie so I am definitely looking forward to that along with the third book; I wonder what that title will be?

Dear John Book Review

The third book I recently dove into was Nicholas Sparks' latest box office hit, Dear John. I have been a Nicholas Sparks fan ever since I read "A Walk to Remember" and "The Notebook" (back before it became a major motion picture). Both of these stories are so heartwarming yet sad and Nicholas Sparks does an amazing job of turning that combination into something beautiful. Dear John is no exception to this. Once I heard that they were making a movie of this book and that it might actually be comparable to The Notebook, which is one of the best movie versions of a book that I have personally ever seen, I knew I had to rush to the book store so I could read it before I watched it. This book was from John's perspective, a young man in the Army who meets a girl named Savannah while home on leave one summer. The book takes you through their two-week whirlwind romance and the pain and heartache that goes along with being in a military relationship when John has to go back to Germany. There is a touching side story with John and his father that I actually fell in love with more than the main story line. Without ruining anything, I will say that some people may judge this story due to the ending of the book, but I hope that you won't. I hope that anyone reading this story will realize that life isn't the way that it is supposed to be, it is the way that it is, it's how you deal with it that makes all the difference. After reading the book, I did go ahead and see the movie recently after and I was slightly disappointed. There were a few big differences that I didn't understand. I know that some things work better in books and some things in movies, but the differences I noticed seemed pointless and didn't add anything to the movie, detracted if anything. The story between John and his father, while not identical, was done very well and was my favorite part in the movie as it was in the book. But the rest of the movie left something to be desired after expecting more from reading the book. Also, the ending is completely different which made me angry. I would definitely recommend this book and while you will be disappointed in the movie, I still urge you to read the book first. Watch the movie, but take it with a grain of salt. Understand that you can appreciate the movie for what it is on its' own, but I personally cannot accept it as an adequate portrayal of the book.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

~Happy 2010!~

Happy 2010 everyone! I rang in the New Year at a fun Black & White party with a few of my favorite people while watching my beloved Hokies win the Chick-fil-a bowl!

In my personal life, I have a lot of things to look forward to in the new year. My boyfriend Gary and I will have officially been together 2 years on January 18. Then in March I will be in my brother Andrew's wedding in Montana and my parents and I are taking a trip to Hawaii right after the wedding! In April I will start my second baseball season with the Trenton Thunder on the 8th and will also hit that milestone birthday of 25 years old on the 20th!

As for my sports teams that I'm passinate about, 2010 means the Redskins can wash that horrible taste of their 2009 season out of their mouths by starting fresh with a new coach (yet to be named), a #4 draft pick, and hope for better things to come in 2010. My New York Yankees will get the chance to defend their world championship title in the 2010 season although they'll be doing it without my favorite player of recent years, Melky Cabrera. The Hokies basketball team has done well so far this season so I am looking forward to them making a splash in this years March madness tournament.

I'm not really the type to make official "New Years Resolutions" but I do like to make "to-do" lists and set personal goals for myself. I haven't done a great job at completing these lists and goals but they're still fun to make! One thing that I would like to do is to actually write more than 7 blog posts in 2010, even if no one actually reads them :-) I am planning on blogging about anything and everything from my random babblings to recipes, product reviews and more. Stay tuned!