Tuesday, June 30, 2015

4th of July Manicure - Sinful Colors' Star Blast Off




Well it's that time of year again, the Forth of July is this coming weekend! What patriotic manicure have you come up with this year? If you need help figuring that out, you are welcome to copy the manicure I came up with above. I chose Julep's red nail polish called Myrtle as a base for the wonderful Sinful Colors top coat called Star Blast Off. Myrtle is from the Classic with a Twist collection and Julep describes it as a flapper red crème. I used two coats of it and it was nice and opaque. It was pretty easy to apply except at the cuticle line. I had to make sure I was using the side of the brush that has a nice edge to it, because the other side was crooked. After about ten minutes drying time, I applied Sinful Colors' Star Blast Off which has red, white and blue dots and white stars in a clear base. After I brushed it on, it left red, white and blue dots, but I had to fish out the stars and dab them on. I also went back and dabbed on some more dots where there were bare spots. After about five minutes when the top coat settled, I applied one top coat of Seche Vite. I swatched this top coat on top of white, metallic white and silver nail polishes, but the dots and stars didn't pop enough, so I went with the red color as a base. I just applied it yesterday, so I don't know how long the polish will last nor how easily it chips. I will update this post with that information in about seven days. Also, I will be applying another top coat of Seche Vite before I wash our dogs so that it will last longer. Star Blast Off is available at Walgreens and only costs $1.99. The photo above was taken outside on a mostly cloudy day. Myrtle looks much darker indoors, it has more of a red hot candy color.

So there you have it, my latest manicure. How do you like it and what's on your nails today? Please take a moment and comment below. I have over eighty 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 the photos are linked to their matching blog post. Before you leave, don't forget to enter my Green Blender Smoothie Subscription Box Giveaway and claim your Free Graze Box!

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Giveaway & Home Chef Subscription Box - 7th Delivery



Caramel Apple Smoothies with Vanilla Greek Yogurt & Roasted Peanuts Ingredients


Recipe Results


Cuban Style Pork Chop with Ensalada de Aguacate & Citrus Caramelized Onions Ingredients


Recipe Results


Hearty Steak & Goat Cheese Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette & Pepitas Ingredients


Recipe Results


Farmer's Market Gazpacho with Avocado Microgreen Tartines Ingredients



Recipe Results


North Indian Aloo Tikki Crispy Potato Cakes with Pineapple Mint Chutney Ingredients



Recipe Results


Pan Seared Chicken Moutarde with Chervil Gremolata & Smashed Yukon Potatoes Ingredients


Recipe Results


Fresh Fruit Basket

This is a review of a subscription box we have been receiving for the last eight weeks called Home Chef. Out of the eleven recipes offered last week, I chose five recipes and could have ordered more since they were all tempting. I also ordered the fruit basket and the weekly smoothie recipe. Unfortunately, the chicken thighs and steak didn't do well during the trip here, so we had to go to the grocery store and purchase replacements. It appeared the condensation from the refrigerated ingredients weakened the cardboard box causing the bottom of the box to tear open during shipping and then FedEx taped it back together. The chicken, pork and steak were put back in three different locations in the box and not next to the ice packs. Also, a tomato was squished and half the spinach went bad. Home Chef gave me a $40 credit for the damaged ingredients. Our favorite recipe this week was the Caramel Smoothie, second place goes to the North Indian Aloo Tikki and our least favorite was the Pan Seared Chicken Moutarde

Caramel Apple Smoothies Ingredients

Wow, was this tasty! We've never used caramel in our smoothies before since we usually only use healthy ingredients, but this was a nice treat. I was so glad the replacement drive socket for our Vitamix arrived in time to make this recipe! Their smoothie recipes are always something we look forward to trying since it usually only takes about five to ten minutes to make and even if it's healthy, it's a nice treat. Home Chef has helped us get back into the routine of making smoothies on a regular basis. It's amazing how few peanuts it took to give this drink a yummy peanut butter flavor. This recipe had 570 calories, so it was a dessert for us.

Cuban Style Pork Chop

We had not tried Cuban food before, so we were looking forward to giving this recipe a try. Unfortunately, it didn't have much spice, so it really didn't taste much different and was a disappointment. One of the tomatoes arrived smooched, so we didn't use it. The side salad was ok, but we weren't crazy about using lime juice, lemon zest and lime zest as dressing. This recipe took about thirty minutes and was 510 calories.

Hearty Steak & Goat Cheese Salad Ingredients

I had to make a special trip to the grocery store to replace the steak that went bad due to the temperature in the box being too high. I bought some thinly sliced sirloin from Harris Teeter. Only half the spinach was in decent shape, so I had to throw out about half of it. I didn't purchase more spinach and yet it was still a good portion. This recipe was ok, really nothing special about it and we didn't like the dressing since it was sour. This recipe took around thirty minutes to make and had 677 calories.

Farmer's Market Gazpacho

I planned to make this for my lunch, but put it off until the last moment since I wasn't in the mood to cook. This was ok but I really prefer Tracy Anderson's version of this recipe which uses cilantro instead of basil, red onion instead of shallot, roasted tomatoes instead of tomato juice, mixed bell peppers instead of just red peppers, rice vinegar instead of white wine vinegar and adds lemon juice, chives, paprika and cayenne pepper. Also, this should be made in a food processor rather than a blender, so that it's not totally turned into a liquid and has some chunky bits in it. This is the first time I have tried avocado mashed on top of bread and while it was ok, I really prefer slices of it in a sandwich with meat or cheese or something other than just avocado. I added red onion, paprika and cayenne pepper to the leftover gazpacho and it was much improved. This is the perfect diet recipe, if you use cayenne pepper since it boosts your metabolism. This vegetarian recipe took about twenty-five minutes to prepare and had 452 calories.

North Indian Aloo Tikki

I also planned to make this dish for lunch, but procrastinated. When I went to make it eight days after it arrived everything was fresh except the peas, so I just used the frozen peas I always keep on hand for our dogs. This was very tasty and quite unusual like nothing I've had before. I especially enjoyed the chutney which consisted of mint, red onion, pineapple, cilantro, jalapeño, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper. It was easier to make than the recipe looked. Perhaps another reason I put it off since it looked intimidating to me and Hubby wouldn't be around to help out during lunchtime. I ate the second portion today after warming the patties in our little oven and they were a little dried out but the chutney rectified that. This delicious vegetarian recipe took around forty minutes to make and had 457 calories.

Pan Seared Chicken Moutarde

Shortly after Hubby started this recipe he opened the chicken package and there was a really awful smell that was no doubt proof that the chicken thighs had gone bad. Since we didn't have any other chicken in the house that wasn't frozen, we put this one off until we could find chicken thighs which required a trip to two different grocery stores to find them. This recipe would have been ok if it wasn't for the awful sour lemon sauce that went on top. This recipe took about forty minutes to prepare and had 591 calories.

Fresh Fruit Basket

This was a nicely ripe group of fruit that they sent this week. I just wish they would change it up a bit since this is the third week of the same types of fruit. I just checked the new menu that they put up today for the week of July 6th and they have changed it to trail mix, kiwi, oranges, grapefruit and apples. I'm so excited! So they are listening to our suggestions, how wonderful.

Well there you have it, a review of our seventh delivery from Home Chef. I really shouldn't have bought so many recipes, but I was really tempted by them that week and had no idea we wouldn't be in the mood to cook since Hubby came down with a cold. Maybe that was the issue with the shipment, that they placed too many recipes in the same sized box. I ordered less for this week since the menu wasn't as tempting. But boy am I challenged to pick less than five items for the current menu that is up for the week of July 6th. So many dishes that I want to try! Here's what we received today:
  1. Southern Fried Chicken & Biscuits with Onions, Pickles & Honey Butter
  2. Spiced Turkey Kofta Gyros with Cool Tzatziki Sauce & Pickled Onions in a Soft Pita
  3. Orange Vanilla Dreamsicle Smoothie with Fresh Oranges and Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  4. Fresh Fruit Basket
Thankfully, they arrived safely with six ice packs, five of which were still partially frozen. Check out my reviews of Home Chef's competition: PlatedHello Fresh and Blue Apron before you leave.  Also, before you leave don't forget to claim your Free Graze Box and enter my latest Giveaway which is a Plated Subscription Box worth $72:


Plated has provided me with another free subscription box worth $72 to give away. Congratulations to Tina who won the last one. Plated will send the winner one shipment that includes all the ingredients for three recipes for two people for a total of six servings. The winner must be over 18 years old, a new Plated customer, provide me with their name and email address to give to Plated, provide Plated their credit card number in case they want to continue with the service past the first box and live in the US. To skip future weeks' shipments, visit their website & go to my account, subscription and click "skip this week" on the calendar or chose "cancel subscription".

Bargain Alert -   Hello Fresh - $40 off your first box, use coupon code "YVWF79". 
                           Home Chef - $30 off your 1st box, click here.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Plated Subscription Box - 10th Delivery



Baked Rye Spaccatelli with Zucchini, Green Beans & Mozzarella Ingredients


Recipe Results


Caesar Steak Lettuce Cups with Lemon Potatoes Ingredients


Recipe Results


Feta Stuffed Lamb Burgers with Cucumber & Mâche Salad Ingredients


Recipe Results


This is a review of the tenth delivery we have received from a subscription box called Plated for $72 per week. Interesting stats Plated has listed on their website for me: I have ordered 62 plates and used 381 unique ingredients so far. My favorite recipe this week was the Baked Rye Spaccatelli followed by the Feta Stuff Lamb Burgers and lastly the Caesar Steak Lettuce Cups. We enjoyed all three recipes this week!

Baked Rye Spaccatelli with Zucchini, Green Beans & Mozzarella

This is the first recipe we made since I was really excited to try the pasta made with rye flour. This recipe was really tasty comfort food! At first I thought there wasn't enough cheese to make this recipe, but it turned out to be the perfect amount. This dish didn't have any spices added to it, so that was our only complaint. The cheese sauce was really easy to make and so delicious. Having zucchini and green beans with pasta was different for us, so it was a delicious and healthy change. I'm going to try and skip white flour pasta from now on, this dish proved to me that it doesn't have to be white flour pasta to be tasty. It was a generous portion of food and they sent us high quality ingredients which I really appreciate. It took about thirty minutes to make and had 620 calories which is much lower in calories than most mac & cheese recipes! Bravo, Plated!

Caesar Steak Lettuce Cups with Lemon Potatoes

This was a very enjoyable dish that took about forty minutes to make and had 540 calories. Some bites of the steak were a bit tough, but the dressing was really good and the lemon potatoes were surprising delicious. The redskin potatoes were simply boiled for ten minutes and tossed with parsley, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Very easy to make and yet a wonderful combination of flavors. The caesar dressing was made of garlic paste, anchovy paste, mayo, pecorino cheese, the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper.  I had a difficult time making the garlic paste. Hubby felt that the dressing had too much lemon and the consistency was too thin. He orders caesar salad a lot so he's able to judge it unlike myself. The lettuce was really hard to clean since it was so dirty. I don't see lettuce at our grocery stores that is anywhere as dirty as this lettuce was, it was a big disappointment since this subscription box is more expensive than the competition. Hubby was really irritated by the filthy lettuce. 

Feta Stuffed Lamb Burgers with Cucumber & Mâche Salad

We put off making this dish since Hubby was sick and I didn't feel like cooking. We love lamb and have it on a regular basis, so normally we make the lamb dishes first since we are most excited about those recipes. The oregano, mint and scallion were missing from our box, so that was another reason we put off making it since we had to make a special trip to the grocery store to pick those up. That was really disappointing and the $12 credit for the missing ingredients doesn't motivate me to order another box, since I don't want to make another trip to the grocery store! It's one thing when the produce goes bad during shipping, but it's worse when they forget to even put in the in the box. We really enjoyed the burgers, but I think a different type of cheese would have been better to stuff the burgers with, since the feta cheese didn't have much flavor.  Maybe havarti or gouda cheese would have been better. Hubby complained that the bun was of a low quality and falling apart. You can see in the pic above that the top was already coming apart before we even started eating. The side salad was just ok, the mâche didn't change the flavor at all. It was sent with it's soil, which was weird. The recipe's photo showed a larger quantity of mâche than we received, so maybe if we had more of it we could have tasted it. This dish took about forty minutes to make and had 720 calories.

Well there you have it, my review of our tenth Plated box. I'm not planning on ordering another Plated box anytime soon, since I don't see anything on the menu that I want to order. We did receive a $12 credit for the missing herbs, but it will be awhile before I redeem that. I just find Plated has fancier recipes than we'd like, at first that was fun but now we just want common ingredients that we love and easier recipes that don't look so intimidating. So we've been ordering from Home Chef the most. Check out my reviews of Plated's competition: Home Chef, Hello Fresh and Blue Apron before you leave. Which of the four subscription boxes do you like the most?

Also, before you leave don't forget to claim your Free Graze Box and come back tomorrow to enter my next Giveaway which will be a Plated Subscription Box worth $72. Congratulations to Tina who won the last one.

Bargain Alert -   Home Chef - $30 off your 1st box, click here.
                           Hello Fresh - $40 off your first box, use coupon code "YVWF79". 
                           
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Monday, June 22, 2015

Pop the Bubbles L'Oréal Manicure


This is a review of the nail polish called Pop the Bubbles from L'Oréal available at drugstores. It's a texture nail polish in a teal/turquoise color with medium sized glitter that reflects silver. It's quite pretty in the sunlight with movement. This polish was easy to apply and required only one coat to be opaque, but I always apply two coats just to make sure the nail is well covered and it doesn't show any application errors. I used one coat of Perfect Formula's Manicure Booster as a base to help prevent chipping. It requires a couple coats of Seche Vite top coat, so it's not so rough unless that texture doesn't bother you. I prefer a nice smooth surface that I'm sure won't catch on anything. Shortly after I was wearing it, I realized I had almost an exact duplicate in my collection. Julie G's Rock Candy is almost the same polish, the only exception is her glitter pieces are larger and it's a bit lighter in color. Oh well, that doesn't happen very often, but when you have as large of a collection of nail polish as I do, it's bound to happen. Check out my Nail Polish Collection before you leave and you'll see what I mean. Do you find yourself attracted to the same colors of nail polish when you are shopping too? This one lasted eight days before chipping, which is really good for a texture polish since they tend to chip faster than regular types of nail polish. It was surprising easy to remove compared to other texture polishes. I highly recommend Target's own brand of nail polish called up & up Maximum Strength Acetone Nail Polish Remover. I no longer need to use the foil method to remove glitter nail polishes since this works faster and better. It has a bendable plastic brush all around the edges that brushes the glitter right off your nails! It's so fast! It only costs $2.59 and it lasts a really long time. I'd say about six months! You can add more nail polish remover, but after awhile if you use red nail polish, it will be too dirty to use anymore. You may have to use the "find in a store" feature online to find a store that carries it. My local store took six months to get it back in stock, but I think that's due to bad management since they have other management issues.

So there you have it, a review of my latest manicure. I have eighty 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. Have you ever bought a nail polish only to discover you have one very similar already in your collection?

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Plated Subscription Box - 9th Delivery & Giveaway



Pad See Ew with Pork & Sweet Peppers Ingredients


Recipe Results


Chicken Shawarma with Tahini & Israeli Salad Ingredients


Recipe Results


Black Rice Noodles with Sea Beans, Oyster Mushrooms, and Umami Asparagus Ingredients


Recipe Results


This is a review of our ninth delivery from a subscription box company called Plated. We had not purchased a box for almost two months since we didn't care for the recipes they were offering during those weeks. Instead we purchased their competitions' boxes, mostly from Home Chef and some from Hello Fresh. For this week's recipes Chicken Shawarma came in first place, followed by the Black Rice Noodles with Asparagus and lastly the Pad See Ew.

Pad See Ew with Pork & Sweet Peppers

Thankfully, I read Plated's Facebook page for reviews on this dish prior to cooking it. One of the subscribers said to use 1/4 of the soy sauce or the dish would be too salty and boy was she correct. I tasted it with just 1/4 of the soy sauce and if I had added anymore there is no way I would have been able to eat it due to the taste and not to mention my high blood pressure. We thought we would love this dish, but it just came off as the same quality as you would get from a typical Asian take out restaurant. It was ok, but certainly not what I expect from Plated at $12.50 a plate. This dish had 730 calories, took around 35 minutes to make and gets two out of five stars.

Chicken Shawarma with Tahini & Israeli Salad

This dish was almost as good as the version we have at our favorite Egyptian restaurant made by an Egyptian. Hubby loved it more than I did. I didn't care for the consistency of the tahini sauce, it just wouldn't mix together well and I thought they should have sent us at least twice the amount they did. I also didn't care for the very thin, tasteless lavash bread. I would have preferred naan or pita bread. The chicken was very tender, but there wasn't much of it and Hubby left the table hungry and was snacking shortly thereafter. It was a pretty easy recipe to make, but there was a lot of produce to wash and chop and time spent waiting for the chicken to marinate. This recipe had 710 calories and received four out of five stars from me and five out of five stars from my husband.

Black Rice Noodles with Sea Beans, Oyster Mushrooms, and Umami Asparagus

Curiosity made me order this dish, but procrastination caused me to wait to cook it until my next shipment from Home Chef arrived and I needed room in the refrigerator. It made for a fabulous lunch. Wow, was this delicious! I was nervous about it because I don't care for black rice and thankfully the black rice noodles didn't taste like black rice. The noodles didn't have much flavor themselves, but absorbed the flavors around them. They were tasty due to the wonderful sauce made out of soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, mirin and the shichimi togarashi spice that was poured on top of them. My only complaints for this recipe were the very thin asparagus that was provided and the noodles loved to stick to the pan in the last step, so that part should have had less cooking time. Also, I would have liked more mushrooms and peanuts.

Well there you have it, my review of our latest Plated box. We are expecting the following recipes from Plated this coming Saturday:
  1. Feta Stuffed Lamb Burgers with Cucumber & Mâche Salad
  2. Caesar Steak Lettuce Cups with Lemon Potatoes
  3. Baked Rye Spaccatelli with Zucchini, Green Beans & Mozzarella
Check out the previous dishes we have tried via my Plated Pinterest Board. Just click on any picture that interests you and it will take you to the matching blog post so that you can read about it. 

Before you leave don't forget to claim your Free Graze Box and enter my latest Giveaway which is a Plated Subscription Box worth $72:

Plated has provided me with another free subscription box worth $72 to give away. Congratulations to Heather who won the last one. Plated will send the winner one shipment that includes all the ingredients for three recipes for two people for a total of six servings. The winner must be over 18 years old, a new Plated customer, provide me with their name and email address to give to Plated, provide Plated their credit card number in case they want to continue with the service past the first box and live in the US. To skip future weeks' shipments, visit their website & go to my account, subscription and click "skip this week" on the calendar or chose "cancel subscription".

Bargain Alert -   Home Chef - $30 off your 1st box, click here.
                           Hello Fresh - $40 off your first box, use coupon code "YVWF79". 
                           
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Have a PEACEful Day!