Friday, July 21, 2017

Play! by Sephora Subscription Box Review - July 2017

Beauty Staycation

This is a review of a monthly cosmetic subscription box from Sephora called Play!. Each month they send out six samples and a cosmetic bag for only $10. The retail value of this month's box is $49.20. That's an excellent value, wow! Bargain! Included in the box were the following samples:
  1. Caudalíe - Glow Activating Anti-Wrinkle Serum, .33 fl. oz., made in France, $17.16 retail value
  2. Clean Réserve - Sueded Oud, .05 fl. oz., made in the USA, $1.39 retail value
  3. Bobbi Brown - Eye Opening Mascara, .17 oz., $12.14 retail value
  4. Tarte - Color Splash Lipstick in Set Sail, .035 oz., $6.12 retail value
  5. Briogeo - Leave in Conditioning Spray, .75 oz., $3.00 retail value
  6. Fresh - Rose Face Mask, .5 fl. oz., made in France, $9.39 retail value
I'm always happy to receive a sample from the brand Caudalíe. Since it's so expensive I wouldn't purchase any full sized products from them. I really haven't seen any anti-wrinkle results from their brand though. Have you? I'm not a fan of the Clean Reserve fragrance since it's woody musk scent. I enjoy receiving samples from the Bobbi Brown line since the quality is very good. I tried the Tarte lipstick and it's too dark of a brown color for me. I have a cool skin tone, so a brown doesn't work on me. Browns look best on warm skin tones. I was really surprised to receive what I would consider a fall color since it's summer. I use to love the Tarte brand until I received more than one product with quality issues. They really need to find a new supplier for their cosmetic containers since I've had several break only after a few uses. I haven't bought anything from the Briogeo line since I'm very loyal to the Wen brand. I've enjoyed the Fresh line before and look forward to trying the mask. It's suppose to smell like roses.

My favorite samples to receive are lipstick and masks, but the lipstick they sent me is too dark of a color. I'll enjoy using the mask, serum, mascara and leave in conditioner, so it's a pretty good box for me. If you received a box from Sephora this month, what did you think of your selection of samples? If you haven't subscribed yet, what's keeping you from giving it a try? Comment below. Come on, talk to me! Inquiring minds want to know! I heard the wait list has been lifted again, so you may want to try and subscribe now.

Check out my Play! by Sephora Pinterest Board to see what I have received in my previous boxes. Also, check out my Subscription Box Pinterest Board to see what other boxes I've subscribed to over the years. Don't forget to enter my latest giveaway before you go. 

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

54th Home Chef Review & GIVEAWAY

Ceviche Style Shrimp Tostadas with Avocado & Mango Salsa


Pork Chop with Pecorino Garlic Butter with Hot Honeyed Peas & Carrots


Lettuce Wrapped Blue Cheese Turkey Burger with Green Salad & Special Sauce


This is a review of our 54th delivery from a weekly food subscription box called Home Chef. This week we gave one recipe five out of five stars, one recipe three stars and one recipe one star. The calories ranged from 591 to 625. Preparation time indicated on the recipe cards ranged from thirty to forty-five minutes. Actual preparation time ranged from forty minutes to an hour. Our favorite recipe was the Ceviche Style Shrimp Tostadas. If you are here only for the GIVEAWAY, scroll down to enter.

Ceviche Style Shrimp Tostadas with Avocado & Mango Salsa

We gave this recipe five out five stars, it was amazingly delicious. I was actually a bit nervous about ordering this recipe, but Hubby said to go ahead and order it anyway. It was scrumptious! The first flavor is spice and then a sweetness hits your tongue. The marinade made the shrimp delicious. The avocado and mango salsa was surprisingly yummy considering I'm not that crazy about the flavor of mango. The tostadas were perfectly crisp. While we've had tostadas before, we've never had one that tasted like this. It was very unique, at least for those of us living on the east coast. If you've never had a tostada before you must try one very soon. We have an authentic Mexican restaurant nearby that makes them and we order them often. This one says it takes up to forty-five minutes to prepare. Actual preparation time was one hour. The calorie count comes in low at only 591 calories. That's quite surprising since it was very filling. If they offer this recipe again, I'll be sure to order it!

Pork Chop with Pecorino Garlic Butter with Hot Honeyed Peas & Carrots

Usually their pork chops are not fatty, but mine was. Hubby said his wasn't fatty. We only gave this recipe three out of five stars. While the pork was tasty, the side dish was a miss. There was too much carrot and the addition of honey and red pepper flakes wasn't tasty. I didn't eat much of the side dish. The Pecorino Garlic Butter was scrumptious though I would have liked more. It's made with butter, parsley, pecorino cheese, roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Every time I've tried one of their butter recipes it's been so delicious. This one says it takes up to forty minutes to prepare and that's how long it took Hubby. The calorie count came in at 624. 

Lettuce Wrapped Blue Cheese Turkey Burger with Green Salad & Special Sauce

We gave this one only one out of five stars since the turkey burger made us sick. We took one bite and stopped since it tasted horrible. Previously we have always loved their turkey, but this one was from a different supplier. I wish they would stop changing suppliers. When they changed chicken suppliers I had to stop ordering chicken from them due to the low quality. Now I've cancelled all future turkey orders. What a shame and what a disappointment! The salad was tasty even though it didn't have many ingredients. The dressing is made with white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. The salad is made of lettuce, diced tomatoes and cucumber. This one came in at 625 calories and prep time was suppose to take up to forty-five minutes. Actual preparation time was an hour. 

It was a crazy week made of contrasting recipes, one being a five star recipe and one that made us sick. Home Chef gave me a credit for the ingredient issues. While that's great, I'm really disappointed they changed suppliers and now I'm not going to order any more turkey from them as a result. Check out my Home Chef Pinterest Board to see all of the recipes we've made so far. What's your favorite meal kit subscription box?


The winner must be over 18 years old, have never subscribed to Home Chef, provide me with their email address to give to Home Chef, provide Home Chef their credit card number in case they want to continue with the service past the first box and live in the US (not in Hawaii & Alaska). Winner will be sent an email from Home Chef & simply need to click on the link to redeem their free $50 Home Chef trial. To cancel future shipments visit their website and go to my account, contact info then chose "pause your account" or to skip future shipments select delivery calendar and chose "skip delivery". 

This giveaway is only for those that have never subscribed to Home Chef before.  Do not enter if you aren't planning on claiming it since there are many people who really would love to win.

Bargain Alert:

Home Chef - $30 Coupon, click here
Mr. Rebates - Cash Back for Online Shopping, click here.
Vitacost - $10 off 1st order
Walmart Grocery - $10 off $50

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

13th Hello Fresh Subscription Box Review & $40 Coupon

Wasabi Lime Salmon over Soy Simmered Rice with Baby Bok Choy


Southwestern Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef, Quinoa & Monterrey Jack Cheese


Carla Hall's Summery Lemon Chicken with Tarragon Chimichurri


This is a review our 13th shipment from Hello Fresh. Calories ranged from 660 to 720 this week. Preparation time indicated on the recipe cards ranged from thirty-five to fifty minutes. Actual preparation time ranged from forty minutes to an hour. We gave one recipe four out of five stars and the other two recipes three stars. 

Wasabi Lime Salmon over Soy Simmered Rice with Baby Bok Choy

I absolutely loved the wasabi lime dressing on this dish! Yum! It's made with mayo, lime juice, garlic, ginger, wasabi paste, salt and pepper. We normally love bok choy, but the way they cooked it made it a different texture that was unpleasurable. Also, we didn't like the flavor of the rice after cooking it in the soy sauce and vegetable stock concentrate. Strangely, the picture on the recipe card shows white rice yet after you cook it in soy sauce it's no longer white, it's brown as shown in the picture above! The salmon was tasty due to the awesome sauce. This one says it takes ten minutes prep time and thirty minutes cooking time for a total of forty minutes. Actual total cooking and prep time was forty-six minutes. The calorie count on this one is 660. While I give the sauce five out of five stars due to the rest of the dish being disappointing, I brought the score down to three stars.

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef, Quinoa & Monterrey Jack Cheese

Who doesn't love stuffed peppers, so I had to order this one. We gave it three out of three stars though, it had to much filler made of quinoa and there wasn't enough ground beef and cheese. The scallions were a bit limp. The recipe says it takes five minutes prep time and thirty minutes cooking time for a total of thirty-five minutes. Actual total cooking time was one hour. We gave this one three out of five stars. Calorie count on this one was 710.

Carla Hall's Summery Lemon Chicken with Tarragon Chimichurri

My guess prior to cooking was that this would be my least favorite recipe for the week. To my surprise this was my favorite recipe for the week. It's a Carla Hall recipe, she was a finalist on the TV show competition called Top Chef. I really enjoyed the dressing made with mustard, brown sugar, tarragon, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The chimichurri was tasty also. It's made with tarragon, garlic, chili flakes, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I gave this recipe four out of five stars while Hubby gave it only three stars. This recipe took Hubby forty minutes to prepare while the recipe says it takes fifty. That's the first time a recipe has been quicker than the recipe indicated including all the meal kit subscriptions we've tried! 

The sauces used this week are definitely keepers that we plan to recreate on our own in the future. They were simple, quick and scrumptious. Have you tried Hello Fresh yet? If not, be sure to snag my coupon for $40 off! While it's not my favorite subscription box, it's worth trying with a coupon! What's your favorite food subscription box?

Bargain Alert:

Hello Fresh - $40 off
Home Chef - $30 Coupon, click here
Mr. Rebates - Cash Back for Online Shopping, click here.
Vitacost - $10 off 1st order
Walmart Grocery - $10 off $50

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Fujisan Japanese Steakhouse - Raleigh, NC

8411 Briar Creek Parkway 
Suite 105
Raleigh, NC  27617
(919) 806-2888

Exterior View

Interior View

Mai Tai

Top Shelf Martini

Miso Soup & Salad with Ginger Dressing

Onion Volcano Fire Show

Cooking Mushrooms, Onions, Shrimp, Zucchini & Noodles

Steak Portion

This is a review of a Japanese steakhouse called Fujisan located in the Briar Creek Commons Shopping Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. To get there use the Lumley Road exit on 540. They are open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 am to 2 pm and Sunday from Noon to 3 pm. They are not open for lunch on Saturdays. They are open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm and Friday they are open an additional hour. Saturday they are open from 3 pm to 10:30 pm and Sunday from 3 pm to 9 pm. Their sanitation score is currently 95.5 which is very good. We visited last Saturday at 3 pm and we were their first customers. We were immediately welcomed by a friendly hostess and seated at a table.

Our drink orders were taken right away. Shortly after additional people arrived and our table was full with eight people. I ordered a Mai Tai and Hubby ordered a Martini. We both really enjoyed our drinks, they were both very tasty. Ten minutes later we were served our Miso soup and three minutes later our salads. Dinner comes with both soup and salad. Their Miso soup was scrumptious and served hot. The salad & ginger dressing were also tasty. About five minutes later the chef arrived and started cooking. He cooked the rice and did a show with the egg and served it. He then started cooking the onions, zucchini and mushrooms. A few minutes later he started a fire show layering onion into the shape of a volcano and lighting it on fire, see photo above. While he wasn't the most entertaining chef there, he cooked all of the food perfectly. We were served the mushrooms, onions and zucchini first, followed by two shrimp and then the noodles. They were all delicious and filling. He then cooked the chicken, shrimp and steak. I ordered chicken and steak medium rare and Hubby ordered steak rare and shrimp. Both of our steaks were cooked as requested and they were very tender and yummy. They were trimmed nicely so there wasn't any remaining fat yet after cooking as to flavor the steaks. I've had chefs at other restaurants that trim them prior to cooking and they don't taste as good since they aren't cooked in the fat. My only complaint was the shrimp was very salty. If you are on a low salt diet you might want to ask for less salt. As you can see above the steak portion is generous considering I also ordered chicken. I think I will just order the steak next time since it was so delicious. We both ordered the "Choice of Two" Entree and it costs $19.95. Hubby's Martini cost $7.50 and my Mai Tai was $6.95. All entrees include soup, salad, shrimp appetizer, fried rice, noodles and hibachi vegetables. If you are especially hungry you may manage to eat all of your food, otherwise you'll want to take your leftovers home. You could easily have a lunch portion leftover. Several people were celebrating their birthday while we were there. The staff comes out and sings and they offer a small heart shaped red ballon and cheesecake for dessert. It was a very enjoyable dining experience. 

We have been to this restaurant many times over the years and we look forward to our next visit. I highly recommend this restaurant. If you haven't given it a try, be sure to put it at the top of your list of restaurants to visit. What's your favorite Japanese restaurant in the Triangle?

I invite you to follow my blog via InstagramPinterestTwitterGoogle +Bloglovin'Networked Blogs and Zomato. Also, be sure to browse around my blog since I'm sure you'll find something else that interests you. To see a full listing of my restaurant reviews, visit my Pinterest Restaurant Reviews Board

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Fujisan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Sunday, July 16, 2017

QVC's TSVs for August 2017

Preorder Numbers for Today's Special Values

4th - Vionic Orthotic Suede Lace Up Casual Sneakers, A298996, $89.80 or 5 payments of $17.96, comes in 5 colors

10th - Duracell Eight Piece Solar Light Set, M54686, $49.98 or 3 payments of $16.66, comes in 4 colors

12th - Josie Maran Skin Care & Color Four Piece Kit: Argan Milk, Argan Oil, New Beauty Butter Velvet Foundation & mascara, item # not yet available

14th - Women in Control Pull on Leggings, Petite A298986 or Regular A298985, $37.68 or 4 payments of $9.42, comes in 5 colors

15th - Julep Super Size Oxygen Nail Treatment, A300239 $39.98 or 2 payments of $19.99, many reviews of her nail polish on this blog! Free 12 Piece Nail Polish Collection with subscription waiting for you!

18th - Cuddl Duds Comforter French Terry Cascade Front Cardigan, A298987, $27.36 or 2 payments of $13.68, comes in 5 colors and 1 print

19th - Dooney & Bourke Smooth Leather Shoulder Bag with Accessories, A298995, $229.92 or 5 payments of $45.98, comes in 6 colors

22nd - Laura Geller Get Gilded Six Piece Collection, A299252 or A/D A300280, $49.98 or 3 payments of $16.66, comes in 7 shades

24th - Earth Vintage Leather Zip Up Ankle Boots, A298989, $89.90 or 5 payments of $17.96, comes in 5 colors

27th - Keurig K55 Coffee Maker with My K-Cup, K46308, $79.96 or 5 payments of $15.99, comes in 4 colors

28th - Susan Graver Everyday Liquid Knit Pants, A298991 or Petite A298993 or Tall A298994, $44.40 or 4 payments of $11.10, comes in 5 colors

30th - Masterbilt Portable Electric Smoker with Rib Rack, K46327, $79.96 or 5 payments of $15.99, comes in 3 colors


3rd - Lock & Lock Eighteen Piece Storage Set, K46329, $27.98 or 3 payments of $9.32, comes in 10 colors

So what TSVs are tempting you for the month of August? So far the solar lights are tempting me since we could use some new ones. These are about $6.25 each, I guess that's a decent price. What do you think? I wish I could find some that last a long time and are very bright. Any brand recommendations? I'm also tempted by the Josie Maran's TSV, but I find trying new foundations are risky for me since I need the fairest of fair and most don't provide that shade. I recommend her oil and milk, but I have a several bottles of her oil in reserve and I'm really picky about mascara. I'm curious about the T3 TSV since they make my favorite hair dryer which I use weekly to dry the hair of our four dogs. It definitely saves time and with four dogs that's a must. I recommend the Keurig and Julep polish. The Julep TSV seems pricey to me being a Maven (aka member of Julep). I'm one of their first subscribers to their subscription box. I have reviewed their subscription box and their polish many times. They have so many sales I never buy her polish at full price, so I recommend buying her products directly from the Julep website as a member. If you aren't a member yet, join now and receive a 12 piece polish set ($168 value) as a gift for joining!  Wow, bargain! You can view several of my manicures using Julep nail polish on my Pinterest Manicure Board and my Pinterest Nail Art Board. Some other interesting TSVs that information hasn't been released on yet are:

1st - T3 Hair Care
5th - Isaac Mizrahi 
7th - Peter Thomas Roth
9th - Copper Chef
11th - Denim & Co
21st - H by Halston
25th - Bethlehem Lights
26th - Dyson
31st - Smart Home

I will update those as soon as I find out what they are. Please show your support for this blog by checking out the following referral offers I use and recommend:

Boxed - $15 off $60 
Hello Fresh - $40 off
Home Chef - $30 off, click here.
Julep - Free 12 Piece Nail Polish Collection! $168 value!
Mr. Rebates - $5 Sign Up Bonus & cash back for online shopping including QVC, click here.
Sun Basket - $35 off, click here.
Vitacost - $10 Off, click here.
Walmart Grocery - $10 off $50 

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Review Part II - Cancún, Mexico

Calle Retorno del Rey #36
Zona Hotelera
77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
+52 998 881 0808

View from Balcony

This is a review of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel located in Cancun, Mexico. Part I was mostly about the interior of the hotel and this post is about the exterior and the beach. When we first arrived we visited the El Café Mexicano restaurant in the hotel. Here's a view from the restaurant:

It looks just like a postcard with a lovely outdoor patio and a view of the gorgeous turquoise water. Here's a view of the hotel from the beach in the evening:

Note the three buildings. There are rooms on the side that only have a view of the ocean when standing on the balcony and looking over. The rooms on the front have a much better view of the ocean as shown in this video:

More of my Cancun videos can be found here. I highly recommend upgrading to the room in the front of the building rather than the side. This way you can order room service, sit in the air conditioning and look out at the beach. Check out my room service reviews: Part I, Part II and Part III. If you get a room on the side you can only see the beach if you lean over the edge and look to the side. You can't see the beach while seated on the balcony nor from inside. Your view is only that of the side of the building and the pool as shown here:

The glorious view from the room at sunset:

The view of the cabanas on the beach at sunset:

These are the cabanas that you can reserve for dinner starting at sunset. They had live jazz music during the dinner that we could hear from our room. Here's a video of the sunset view from the room:

Here's the view during sunrise from the balcony:

All in all it was a lovely stay and the views were spectacular. Have you been to Cancun? If so, which hotel did you stay in? Please comment below! Be sure to check out Part I of my review and my three room service reviews before you go. I also reviewed several restaurants in the area. Check out my Cancún Pinterest Board to see everything I have reviewed so far. Click on the photos that interest you and they will take you directly to the matching blog post. 
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