Friday, January 31, 2014

Barefoot Contessa - Chocolate Chunk Blondie Mix


My favorite butter used in the recipe:

Finished Product:

We were so anxious to try them, I forgot to take a picture until after we had a sample!

This is the second Barefoot Contessa mix I have tried.  I actually tried this quite some time ago, but I'm just getting around to posting it now. Ina Garten has a cooking show called The Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network. She sells her mixes at cooking stores and some gourmet grocery stores.  I purchased this mix on sale at a local grocery store called Fresh Market. Her mixes are quite pricey, so when I saw this one almost half price I purchased three types. I needed to space them out since they are high in calories.  These were very tasty, but less sugary than I expected. If you like a lighter amount of sweetness, you'll enjoy these a lot.  I'd say they have a more european flavor since they have less sugar & sweetness than a typical American recipe. I prefer my own blondies made from scratch using a higher quality chocolate by Ghirardelli.  I recommend trying her mixes, if you can find them on sale and like a less sugary taste.  Look on the box to find the shopping list of additional ingredients you'll need before you leave the store.  Check out my review of her Red Velvet Cupcake Mix before you leave.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

HauteLook Cargo Cosmetics Haul

This is my latest haul from a discount online store owned by Nordstrom called HauteLook.  They have sales on different products each day.  It's a good idea to get on their email list to keep up to date on their sales. I had a $38 credit I needed to use before it expired and decided to get some Cargo cosmetics since I have never tried this line before.  I decided to purchase the following:
  1. Cargo - Magic Brush, $19.00, $35 retail value, 45% off
  2. Cargo - Lip Gloss in Madrid, $8.00, $14 retail value, 42% off
  3. Cargo - Lip Gloss in Nassau, $8.00, $14 retail value, 42% off
I ordered on January 10th and received them today, the 27th. The shipment took seventeen days to get here. The shipping time varies, so you may want to look at the estimated shipping time when you are ordering. Shipping for lightweight items is $5.95 and free for orders over $100. I just ordered today my favorite hand cream by L'Occitane at 50% off.  Rarely do I find that brand at a discount. So when I heard on Instagram it was on sale today, I immediately went to their website and ordered! I highly recommend their hand cream. If you find anything you like at HauteLook, be sure to put it in your cart quickly. They give you fifteen minutes to check out, otherwise others can purchase it and most items sell out fast. You can add it back to your cart, if there is still stock available. So it's best to shop early in the day to get the best selection and plan ahead by looking at their emails. Check out a previous HauteLook Haul on my blog before you leave. I also ordered some Sephora by OPI nail polish at 65% off back in September, but I didn't blog about it. You really owe it to yourself to check out their online store for bargains!  If you have purchased from HauteLook, what brands have you purchased?

The Cargo Magic Brush is very soft.  I tried it with my Bare Minerals Mineral Veil and I'm impressed by how much of the powder it grabs! It picked up all the powder I put in the lid and none of my other brushes do that. The lip glosses aren't sticky and are sheer but definitely show their color on your lips.  Also, they feel moisturizing.  I wish there was more product, but they are nice and compact for smaller handbags or a compact purse.  Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie lip gloss is still my favorite.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bath & Body Works - New Products for January & February 2014

Mahalo Maui 3-Wick Candle

Mad About You Body Lotion

I had the pleasure of receiving the above candle and lotion from Bath & Body works as a gift this month as a Fragrance Insider.  The Mahalo Maui candle has a fruity floral scent.  The jar says it features notes of passion fruit, white flowers and musk. It's in a line of candles that features scents of many cities. My favorite is called London Calling. It has the scents of tea, lemon and sugar and it's so wonderful. I was sad to see them discontinue it and so happy to see it return.  I will be stocking up on it soon!  I just looked on their website and they are having a sale on their 3-Wick candles two for $25.  Don't forget to use for 3% cash back and use coupons when you shop!  The current coupon I have is "S141927" which gives you 20% off & a free travel size item for orders of $25 or more. For orders over $50 use code "SPRINGTIME50" for 20% off and free shipping. Safety tips: don't forget to use your candle's lid to extinguish the flames instead of blowing it out when your done.  Secondly, don't leave it lit for more than three hours at a time. Third, trim your wicks before each use. Lastly, never burn it in a room that you are not occupying. What's your favorite candle scent?

The second item I received and gave a try is the Mad About You Body Lotion with shea butter & vitamin E.  I'm happy to see that they have started putting shea butter in their lotions which is really needed during the winter months. Sometime shea butter lotions can be hard to apply due to their thick consistency.  This one has a nice consistency and is easy to apply.  It smells really good and a scent I'd consider purchasing.  The label states that it has black current, pink peony and creamy vanilla musk.  The top notes are black current, strawberry and cassis.  The mid notes are ginger lily, peony and pink jasmine.  The dry notes are amber wood, white patchouli and vanilla musk.  Mad About You will be available February 3rd, but I noticed that the eau de toilette is available now at over 50% off as a preview special.  What's your favorite body lotion scent and brand?

Since this is one of my favorite stores to shop at, I have many Bath & Body Works hauls featured on this blog. Check out my hauls:

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

FACE Stockholm Aphrodite Manicure

This is manicure using a pink holographic nail polish named Aphrodite from the Swedish cosmetics company FACE Stockholm.  This polish goes on so easily, it has the perfect consistency. Usually holographic polishes can be tricky to apply due to them being streaky and drying too quickly, but not this one!  I used one base coat of Perfect Formula's Manicure Booster, two coats of Aphrodite, and one coat of Seche Vite top coat.  It is opaque with one coat, but a bit lighter in color than in the bottle, so I added a second coat.  Seche Vite doesn't alter the holographic polish like some top coats can.  You have to be careful in your top coat selection for use with holographic polishes because some will reduce the holographic reflection. This polish is wearing well which isn't typical for holographic polishes.  I have been wearing it for nine days now and there is only a little bit of tip wear on my right thumb, index finger and middle finger.  I just added a little more Aphrodite polish at the edge to those three nails and then added another top coat to all nails.  Sometimes the top coat will lose a bit of it's shine after seven days or so, so I add another coat at that time.  I highly recommend this holographic nail polish!  You can see the other colors I bought in my FACE Stockholm haul.  I also used this polish and two others for my Holographic Dry Marble Manicure.  

Well there you have it my latest manicure.  I have featured on this blog fifty eight of my manicures. Take a quick glance at them all on my Pinterest Manicure Board.   Then simply click on the ones you want to read about on my blog, since they are linked to the matching blog post. Also, check out my Nail Polish Collection. I'm selling some of my new & used nail polish on my Blog Sale, see them all on my Nail Polish For Sale Pinterest Board.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

BarkBox - January 2014

This is a monthly subscription box from BarkBox for small dogs.  The price varies depending on how long of a membership you chose.  It varies from $19-29 a month and if you use my link, you'll get $5 off your dog's first box.  Included in the January box were the following products:
  1. Barkworthies - Bully Stick
  2. Harry Barker - Tug n' Toss Toy
  3. Loving Pets - Barksters Sweet Potato & Beef Krisps
  4. Louisiana Alligator Jerky
  5. Wigzi - Bone Toy for hiding treats
Our dogs favorite thing in this month's box is the Bully Stick.  They love Bully Sticks so much so that they get a shipment of ten Bully Sticks every six weeks from Doggyloot.  They only play with soft furry squeak toys, so I'll be giving away the two toys included in this shipment to a local dog shelter.  Really not crazy about serving my dogs alligator and don't like some of the other ingredients.  Those ingredients are glycerin, smoke flavor, maple syrup, canola oil, salt, garlic, sorbic acid, citric acid and tocopherols.  Therefore, I will not be serving the Alligator Jerky to my dogs. Not to mention my dogs prefer crispy rather than soft cookies.  The ingredients in the Barksters look good, so I'll be giving them a taste now.  Ok taste test is over and all four of love them and are asking for more! I make them dehydrated slices of sweet potatoes and they love those. So I thought they would like these treats since the first ingredient is sweet potatoes. My dogs are served healthy, homemade dog cookies daily which are made by me weekly. So they are quite picky about their cookies. I have many dog cookie recipes on this blog, take a moment to check them out.  Since there are so few dog cookie recipes out there that are healthy, I had to come up with my own. Visit my Pinterest Dog Cookie Recipes Board to see them all at once. Click on the photo of the one that interests you the most and it will take you to the recipe. This was my dogs' least favorite BarkBox. What are your dog's favorite toys and treats?

Check out what they received in their previous BarkBoxes:

Discount Offers:  $5 off Doggyloot, click here.  $5 off BarkBox, click here.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ipsy - January 2014

This is a monthly cosmetics subscription box from Ipsy for $10 per month including shipping. Included in the January shipment were the following products:
  1. Absolute - Makeup Cleaning Tissue, 10 sheets
  2. Sexy Hair - Soy Tri-Wheat Leave in Conditioner
  3. LeeAnni Eco - 3 in 1 Revolution, toner, serum & moisturizer
  4. Elizabeth Mott - Smooth Shadow in the color Penny
  5. Mica Beauty - Tinted Lip Balm
  6. Makeup Bag
  7. Beauty Blender & Cleanser (extra purchased with points)
I needed some more makeup tissues for removing makeup, so I was glad to see those in my bag this month.  I was disappointed that the Sexy Hair product is a leave in conditioner rather than their beach spray that I love. I don't need anymore leave in conditioners! So I will be selling that on my Blog Sale.  I'm not crazy about products that do more than one thing, but I'll give the 3 in 1 Revolution product a try. The Smooth Shadow looks like a pretty copper color, but it's better for warm skin tones.  So that will be up for sale also. I'm not a fan of tinted lip balm. For lip balm, I'm a loyal EOS customer.  Another item for my Blog Sale, the lip balm.  I was very excited to be able to use 1,000 points to redeem for the Beauty Blender & Cleanser.  What's your favorite cosmetics subscription box? My favorite cosmetics subscription is QVC's New Beauty Test Tube.

Don't miss out on the fun, to sign up for your own Ipsy bag, click here.  Before you go, check out my previous bags:

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Secret to Long Natural Nails

I'm often asked if my nails are natural since they are so long. As you can see above, the proof my nails are natural. I trimmed them just before taking this picture, this is my maintenance length. When I answer they are real, I'm asked how do I manage to grow them so long. The answer is one word, Biotin!  I started out several years ago taking only one 5,000 mcg capsule once a day for a couple of months and voilà, long nails!  Prior to Biotin, my nails always managed to get a bit long, but then they would break. It can be very frustrating. Since I'm very much into taking supplements for other issues, I decided to find a supplement for my nails. I had tried other brands specifically for nails, hair and skin, but they didn't work. I trust the Solaray brand the most. I have tried others that are less expensive, but they don't work as well. So I'm sticking to Solaray from now on. I buy mine on or depending on who has the best price when I need more. If you haven't tried this supplement before, you really owe it to yourself to give it a try!  When you find it works, come back and leave a comment!

I also recommend keeping nail polish on your nails as a bit of protection. In addition, you need to figure out how long you can grow your nails and not go past that length. Above is my perfect length for normal life doing housework, typing, dog grooming, etc. I can easily grow them longer on vacation, if I'm not doing any grocery shopping or housework, etc.  In addition, be careful not to put any weight on your nail tips such as doing laundry. Be very careful lifting heavy, wet laundry.  Do not use your nails as tools. Open mail, packages, product containers, etc. with a dotting tool, pen, scissors, etc. Find something to use as a tool and get out of the habit of using your nails! A high quality multivitamin is also recommended. I chose ProCaps Labs by Andrew Lessman since they are capsules and not tablets. They are sold at and They cost about $1 a day when you purchase them on his quarterly sales with free shipping. Stay away from vitamins that are tablets! They have a hard time dissolving in your stomach and don't absorb into your system as well. Take your vitamins and enjoy long nails!  Before you leave, check out my nails when they weren't naked:  Manicures by Peace Manor on Pinterest.

Discount Offer:  $10 off your first order.  Click here.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Birchbox - January 2014


This is a monthly cosmetic subscription service from Birchbox for $10 per month including shipping.  Included in my January box were the following items:
  1. Omni Potent - Duosity Hair Treatment
  2. Ahmad Tea London - three tea bags in Green, English & Blackcurrant
  3. Inika - Mineral Eyeshadow in Eternal Marine
  4. Camille Beckman - Glycerine Hand Therapy in Midnight Monarch Scent
  5. Liz Earle - Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
I look forward to trying the tea and the face cleanser.  The hand lotion is nice, but the sample is so tiny. I'm not crazy about the eyeshadow, so I'll be selling that on my Blog Sale.  While it's a pretty green color, I prefer sets because you know what colors go together.  Not a fan of figuring that out on my own.  I'm very loyal to the WEN brand of hair shampoo/conditioner, so I will be passing the shampoo and conditioner on to someone who wants to give it a try.  This is my least favorite cosmetic subscription box.  The samples are smaller than others and I don't tend to like the brands they include.  I'm planning to cancel as soon as I use my credit in the store. I'm waiting for the L'Occtaine hand lotion to be back in stock.  What's your favorite subscription box?

Check out what I received in previous Birchboxes:

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

QVC's New Beauty Test Tube - January 2014

This is a quarterly cosmetic subscription box from QVC by New Beauty. It costs $29.96 plus shipping of $6.72 plus tax.  My total came to $39.16 minus the Mr. Rebates discount of $1.50 for a final total of $37.66.  The retail value comes out to $90.76, a savings of $53.10. Previous boxes have had better values.  Included in this shipment were the following cosmetics:
  1. Dr Dennis Gross - Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Serum, .25 fl oz, $10.22 retail value
  2. IT Cosmetics - Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer, neutral medium, .11 fl oz, $9.41 value
  3. CHI Smart - Silk Volumizing Iron Guard Mist, 3 fl oz, $6.74 value
  4. Alterna - Caviar CC Cream 10-in-1 Complete Correction, .85 fl oz, $6.79 value
  5. Peter Thomas Roth - Mega Rich Body Lotion, 1 fl oz, $2.11 value
  6. Peter Thomas Roth - Mega Rich Body Wash,  1 fl oz, $2.11 value
  7. Algenist - Retinol Firming Serum, .33 fl oz, $29.63 value
  8. Supersmile - Professional Whitening Toothpaste, 1.75 oz, $8.75 value
  9. Mally - Evercolor Starlight Eyeliner, full size, .04 oz, $15 value
This is my favorite cosmetic subscription box.  They always include high end brands that I love trying.  Some of the brands are so expensive, I wouldn't purchase in full sizes. So this gives me a chance to try those products at a very low price. I look forward to trying most of the items in this box.  Sadly, I won't be able to use the concealer since it's in medium instead of fair.  I have enough eyeliner, so I won't be using the Mally eyeliner. Those two items will be for sale on my Blog Sale.  The future auto delivery shipments will be in April, August and October.  If you want to purchase this box, be sure to do quickly since most of them sell out fast. The item number is A256028.

Previous Test Tube Shipments:

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Julep Joanna & Geo Manicure

This is a manicure using two coats of Julep's Joanna & one coat of Geo on top.  I received Joanna in the Naughty & Nice Mystery Box and I received Geo from a friend as a Christmas gift.  Joanna is really thin and a bit difficult to work with because it wants to fall off the wand while you are painting your nails.  I decided that it would be best not to put the wand back in the bottle as I normally do after painting each nail. What I did was sit it on it's side while I did clean up of the last nail I painted.  Then I placed only the brush in the polish, so that there wasn't any polish on the wand.  This was a bit of a pain.  I really wish Julep would stop making so many of their polishes so thin! When you brush on Geo, the smallest round holographic glitter will stay put, but most of the large diamond pieces will come right off.  I had to dab on the diamond glitter pieces so they would stay put.  I carefully and quickly moved them with the brush, so that they were not overlapping.  The finished nails remind me of an evening gown with one layer of lace and sequins over lilac satin fabric.  The holographic glitter only required one coat of Seche Vite top coat to make it almost smooth.  I added another coat a couple days later and it smoothed it out completely.  Thankfully, the diamond pieces laid flat on the nail. This manicure lasted twelve days without any chipping or tip wear thanks to the addition of Perfect Formula's Manicure Booster base coat and Seche Vite top coat.  Day thirteen and fourteen, a bit of tip wear on the right index finger and thumb.  Now it's time to decide on which nail polish to use next!  Problem is, I can't decide which of my nail polishes to use next!  Does that happen to you?

Well there you have it my latest manicure.  I have over fifty manicures featured on this blog. Take a quick glance at them all on my Pinterest Manicure Board. Then simply click on the ones you want to read about on my blog, since they are linked to the matching blog post. I'm selling some of my new & used nail polish on my Blog Sale, see them all on my Nail Polish For Sale Pinterest Board.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Chuy's Mexican Restaurant - Raleigh, NC

Photo of the Front Exterior. Entrance on the right side, outdoor seating in the rear.

Tortilla Chips, Salsa & Creamy Jalapeño Dip

Chicka -Chicka Boom-Boom

Fajita Chicken Soft Tacos

Thankfully, another new restaurant has opened in the RDU area!  We are really in the need of more restaurants! This one is called Chuy's Mexican Restaurant located in North Hills. So I just had to try this one since the reviews on Facebook were impressive for this restaurant chain based out of Texas.  They have been open a few weeks now and we visited on Saturday around 2 pm.  There was a bit of a wait for a table. After being seated, more waiting to receive chips, salsa and drinks.  Thereafter, the entrees came in a timely manner.  Chips are refilled with a scoop.  I forgot to take a picture when the basket was full because we were so hungry.  The chips are amazing!  They are the thinest I've ever had and they have a crunch like a potato chip.  These chips are highly addictive!  The salsa has a sweet flavor with a spicy after taste.  It's very good and it's chunky with pico sized pieces of tomato.  The creamy jalapeño dip tastes like ranch dressing with the addition of some jalapeño.  I didn't think I would like that, but it's really good.  I mostly ate the salsa, since the creamy dressing has many more calories. I ordered the Fajita Chicken Soft Tacos and Hubby ordered the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom since it was recommended.  My tacos had only a few pieces of chicken in them and the chicken was dry and lacked spices.  The flour tortillas had too much flour dusted on them and they were falling apart while I was eating them.  The beans were so salty I couldn't eat more than one bite and I love salty food and tend to over salt.  I would have liked a dab of sour cream to go along with my tacos especially since the chicken was dry. The pico and guacamole were yummy, but were small portions. I didn't try the fried rice because that would upset my stomach. Looking at the menu online now, I notice that we were suppose to be asked which of the sides & dips we wanted since there are many options.  Hubby's Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom sauce was delicious.  Hubby shared a couple bites with me.  Not sure if I could handle the entire meal since I have a sensitive stomach, but it was really delicious.  His chicken was also dry and his beans over salted. Hubby didn't care for the fried rice, he said it was dry and had hard pieces in it. The atmosphere is very festive, but the air conditioning was blowing too much.  They have tables and booths.  We really wanted to love this restaurant, but it fell short.  Would we go back?  I'd say we would give them a second chance, but since they have a sign on the door that says "No Guns", we will not be returning. Citizens have the right to protect themselves against criminals, if they have a concealed weapon permit.  How extremely disappointing!  Have you tried any local restaurants lately that you can recommend?  My favorite restaurants in the area are Bosphorus, Sushi Thai, Melting Pot, An New World & Chipotle.  

More Restaurant Reviews:

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Chuy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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