Monday, September 29, 2014

Blogging for Books: Sweet

Whoa, was I glad to see this book as an option to blog for. It was just released this month and a week before it's release date, I swear..I had the book in my cart on Amazon. BUT, my side of the brain that scolds me for buying things I don't technically need won that battle and I never got it. But NOW I own it thanks to Blogging For Books, one of the best sites ever.

Yes, it's another cookbook, but this one is entirely devoted to SWEETS (shocked, right?). And, double awesome, is that it's from the editors of one of my favorite magazines Food Network Magazine! 

Food Network Magazine is my favorite because it has lots and lots of photos and bright colors and fun fonts, and so I had assumed that their first cookbook would be no different. I was not disappointed.

The coolest chapter by far is the one entitled Fake Out Cakes. They have a cake that looks like a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich, A Cheeseburger, and a Flowerpot - just to name a few! These are so creative and so awesome on so many levels.

Then there is your typical cupcakes, cookies, pies, frozen treats and holiday desserts that make up this cookbook. Each recipe comes with a high quality photo, too!

Another positive thing to say is that a lot of the treats aren't your typical treats. You're not going to find the same ol' Apple Pie, they have treats like Blueberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake, and Almond Corn Puff Cookies. I think it's easy to get bored with the same old recipes, despite being made a new way or adding an ingredient. This cookbook is fairly unique throughout the entire thing.

There are no complaints from me with this one. This is a fabulous cookbook that anyone who has a sweet tooth (like myself) should own! :)

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Halloween Baking Kits + Giveaway!

Seriously, if Halloween was a year long celebration, I'd be 100% okay with that. I love everything about Halloween - the candy, the dressing up, the Halloween specials (I grew up on the Roseanne specials!) and the awesome baking that comes with Halloween themed treats. I have seen some AMAZING creations out there. Sometimes though you may not have the time to make something completely from scratch and so having an awesome, unique baking kit on hand is the way to go this Halloween.

Simple ingredients you need
from home!
My love for In The Mix came when I first discovered them at World Market. I can't say what the very first kit was, but every season I go back and look for their newest ones. I decided to bust out my google skills and see who made these kits and discovered Brand Castle, LLC not only just made In the Mix, but also Crafty Cooking Kits & Festival. I reached out to them expressing how much I loved their kits and they were so nice and sent me FOUR boxes of their most popular kits for the Halloween season - one of those kits I will be giving away down below! :)
Contents of Kit

I waited all weekend to finally have a moment to make one of these kits. I debated about making all 3 of them, but decided that I wanted to really 'savor' the kits and since it's not even October, I knew I'd be making them throughout the coming weeks! I did, however, make the Zombie Dance Party Cookie Party Kit (which will be the kit I am giving away, too!) and they turned out very cool looking, were super fun and easy to make and actually tasted delicious! Check out my pictures of the process (and don't judge my terrible cookie decorating skills, lol) and be sure to enter my giveaway to win one! I would love to send it out before Halloween so you can make them too! :)

I love that they included 4 sturdy zombie cookie cutters, because they are going to be reused again!

P.S. My BF just asked if these were turtles - told you I have terrible cookie icing skills! 
I really recommend looking at their website! Just in the Halloween section alone they have 64 items listed! Like bloody bone sprinkles or Fright Night Sprinkles! And, not to mention Christmas and Summer goodies, among other seasons in there!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

DeeDee & Dooley Potty Training Game + Giveaway!

My son is 20 months old, which means that potty training is on the horizon. Not gonna lie, I'm pretty anxious about it. Why? I'm wondering how it's going to go - this will be my first adventure in PottyLand. I've heard horror stories and then I've heard awesome stories where their kid was trained in a day. Sounds magical and slightly unrealistic, but hey, all kids are different and that's okay. It's just another joy of parenthood. ;)

I recently won an awesome potty training tool with the best name ever, DeeDee & Dooley's Potty Training Progress Game. With months away still from potty training, I LOVE knowing that I have my own progress game on hand that will be ready to be used when that time comes. 

So...what is it? DeeDee & Dooley's Potty Progress Game™ (also known as Dee & Doo) is a static cling daily potty training tool that works just like a chart, yet plays like a game. The game includes identifiable potty character pieces and bathroom scene play mat that easily helps children understand their goals visually. Along with the chart and static clings, each game comes with free printables, trusted information from doctors and teachers, support forums, Dee & Doo™ PEP up training, with Patience, Edoocation, and Play!

Why a chart?  Paper charts have been helpful for years, helping children record their progress and allowing them to see the accomplishments they are reaching. Dee & Doofound that charts were awesome, but found that play also helped the developmental process of potty training become more effective. It is their hope that the pleading, bribing parent in a power struggle with their child who resists performing will now turn into a coach and storyteller who plays with their child on their Dee & Doo adventure. 

Why a game?  What child doesn't love to play a game? Potty game should be no exception! Using play to help motivate children and capture their imaginations they will fall in love with the cast of real potty characters and find it less of a chore! When kids don't see using the potty as a chore that interrupts their play, they're less likely to procrastinate and have accidents or avoid going to the potty altogether.

Please check out their website for more information on this awesome potty training aide and to read more about why children have issues with or resist potty training and how Dee & Doo helps them conquer the sometimes scary adventure of potty training (for parents & child!). 

And, we can't not mention how awesome the Potty Parfaits are - every child should experience these, and maybe even parent, because they are that awesome! 

Dooley’s Potty Parfait™ Recipe

You will need:

  • 1 package of Berry Blue Jell-O ® or other gelatin dessert that is BLUE.
  • 1 package of Lemon or Pineapple Jell-O ® or other gelatin dessert that is YELLOW.
  • 1 tub of Cool Whip® – you’ll use about 3/4 of it (you could use whipped cream or yogurt instead)
  • 1 package of Tootsie Roll Midgees® – you’ll use 12 for this recipe*
  • 1 package of Wilton® candy eyeballs – you’ll use 12 for this recipe*
  • 6 clear plastic cocktail cups – plastic is our pick since these are for children as young as 2 years of age

Here’s how to doo it:

Porcelain toilet layer:
Drop spoonfuls of Cool Whip® into the bottom of the cups, just under 1/2 of the way up. Smooth flat and make sure the sides of your cups are clean. (We used the back of a teaspoon to spread and a damp paper towel to wipe.) Place cups on a tray and put in the freezer to set up while you make Jell-O.
Blue toilet water layer:
Prepare Berry Blue Jell-O® according to package instructions. Chill in a bowl for about 10-15 minutes (times will vary depending on temperature and humidity) until gelatin is cool and thickened a little but still liquid. This cooling step is important so that you don’t disrupt the Cool Whip® layer. Gently spoon gelatin into cups on top of Cool Whip® until you reach just under 3/4 of the cup. Chill cups in fridge to set, about 30 minutes, while you make the next layer.
Yellow Dee layer:
Prepare Lemon or Pineapple Jell-O® according to package instructions. Chill in a bowl like you did for the blue gelatin, then pour on top of the pre-set blue Jell-O® layer until the cup is just about full. This is your last layer; chill to set.
Dooley's Potty Parfait™ dessert recipeTootsie Dooley:
(NOTE: Wait to prepare these until about an hour before you’re ready to serve and DO NOT place them in the gelatin until immediately before serving or they will will start to melt into the dessert…and that’s not pretty!) Generously spray a plate with cooking spray or spread oil (not olive) on it with a paper towel. This is important so the Tootsie Rolls® don’t stick! Unwrap 12 Tootsie Roll Midgees® and push two end-to-end until they are well stuck together. You will have 6 double-sized pieces. Place them around the oiled plate evenly and warm them in the microwave. Keep an eye on them, it’s only about 10-15 seconds; don’t let them spread out too much or bubble. Remove plate from microwave and push two candy eyes into the six softened Tootsie Rolls®. With a butter knife or spatula, shape the Tootsie Dooleys so that the top and bottom are rounded and the middle (which melts the most) isn’t too rounded. Take a teaspoon or small plastic spoon and push the tip in to create a smiling mouth. Relax and be creative; you can make them any shape you want! Let cool until you can easily pop the Tootsie Dooleys off plate and they stand up without flopping over. (You can put them in the fridge for a minute or two, but not too long or the humidity can cause stickiness and the black part of the eyes to run.) Just before serving, push the Tootsie Dooleys into the top of each chilled dessert cup so that he stands up. Try different angles and heights in each cup!
And, thanks to the great folks at Dee & Doo, they are letting me give away one of these awesome games for your potty training kiddo! Just enter below! :) US Residents Only! 18+

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Monday, September 15, 2014

BoxyCharm - September 2014 - Fashion Week Fabulous

Another great month! However, I will say, I wish they'd introduce some new brands. I feel like they are recycling the same one - great brands though - I would never purchase brands Tarina Tarantino on my own because I can't afford them, but it would just be nice to get a mixture, because then you start to get burned out on the same brands on repeat. I feel that way when I get repeat brands in different boxes (cough, cough Purlisse).

Theme of the month:

Box contents:
 This box had a whopping retail value of $96.00! 

The Coastal Scents palette I received was Bejing which is describe on the back as having, "twelve highly-pigmented hues shimmer in deep plums, ink black, gold and cherry blossom pinks." The first four took a lot of swatching to get a color I could really see. However, the next rows were very pigmented and my favorite row was the last row! Loved all those colors! :)
The LipSurgence lip gloss from Tarte isn't my thing - mainly because rarely do I find a lip gloss that I'll wear a whole lot. A lot of them are either too stick (like this one) or too slippery. For the most part, it's a clear lip gloss with some shimmer in it. 

Then there's the NCLA Nail Lacquer! I think I really enjoy the color! I don't have many white-ish colors so received something that isn't your typical pink or red is always welcomed.

The Tarina Tarantino Fleur de Lash Mascara (what does that even mean?) is apparently Limited Edition. I wonder why. I love, love their packaging! It's so heavy! And looks/feels expensive, lol. I'm not going to open this mascara because I seriously have soooo many mascaras to use up, so I won't be able to share how I feel about this, but you can never really have too many mascaras, right?

And, finally, the perfume Hello! by Harvey Prince. To me, perfume is perfume. You either hate it or love it. What else can you say? I do love the simple packaging of it. ;) I also don't mind the scent. It's just going to be added to my mountains of perfume samples!

I might be getting burnt out on beauty subscription boxes. Or, maybe just with makeup, in general. I'm a junkie, yet, feel pretty overwhelmed with how much I have accumulated as of late. We shall see, maybe I'm just having a moment :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Blogging For Books: Blue Ribbon Baking from Redneck Kitchen

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

I feel like my life has really been missing out, mainly because just last week did I discover the awesomeness that is Blogging For Books. The idea is you get free books for a honest review. I thought maybe there was a catch, or maybe they were books that were 10 years old, but NO. The book I am about to share with you was JUST released 2 days ago! There were plenty of great books to chose from in all different categories, so why did I chose a cookbook? Well... I feel like the hours in my day disappear. I never really know where they go and I haven't sat down to read a chapter book since I had my son 20 months ago. The most reading I get is when I get 15 minutes here and there reading my bajillion magazines that continue to pile up waiting to be read. No joke, there are probably 200 sitting. It's becoming an epidemic. Anyways.. onto the book...

Selecting this book, I had no idea who Francine Bryson was. I selected it because I love to bake and along with my other neglected hobby, my drive to bake has disappeared just like the minutes in the day. Plus, along with baking, I like to eat baked goods. So, I'm probably an expert...;)...Anyways, back to Francine. Francine was a finalist in CBS's The American Baking Competition - a show i never watched, but probably should have. She's from South Carolina and has won more than 200 local and national baking competitions, and now she has a new cookbook with a forward by Jeff Foxworthy. Neat! 

The book has your typical baking goodness - pies, cookies, biscuits and candy. I really wanted to go outside my box and bake something that had a fun name, like Redneck Cracklin' Corn Bread, or her World Famous Chocolate Bacon Peanut Butter Pie, but when I stumbled upon the Chocolate Chip-Peanut Butter Pan Cake recipe and was pretty much astounded that I had all the ingredients in my house, I got to baking. 

It turned out great, and let me tell you how proud I felt after completing it! Along with my disappearing time, I have had no baking inspiration and have relied on cake mixes (nothing wrong with that) to fill some sort of baking void, but this time I had actually made something from scratch, it's been so long! 

Sadly, I wasn't a huge fan (although I did have seconds) with the taste. I can't really pinpoint why either. Something was lacking. I'm going to try it again tomorrow and see if maybe my taste buds were just off. It's happened before...

As far as the book, it's pretty plain. There aren't that many pictures and I LOVE pictures in cookbooks, the more the merrier. I am a visual person and often select recipes based on the how they look in the cookbook. It's your typical cookbook, simple recipe names, very simple look to it. Some interesting recipes sprinkled throughout, but pretty typical. Still happy to have it in my collection and maybe I will one day have ingredients in the house for something more Redneck.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Beauty Without Cruelty Lipstick Review

I was fortunate to have been sent a free lipstick and some trial size 'samples' to try out from Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) - a company, I've never heard about, but am always excited to learn more about and experience.

First, a little information, straight from their website, for those curious about this brand:

Founded by Kathleen Long & Lady Dowding in 1963 (!) who set out to accomplish a goal to manufacture and distribute natural, color cosmetics that were NOT tested on animals nor contain any animal ingredients. With over 40 years to their name, Beauty Without Cruelty has a full line of cruelty-free, vegetarian skin, body, and hair care products made with the finest natural ingredients and aroma-therapeutic essential oils, along with a full line of color cosmetics. 

I think it's amazing how they have been around 40 years now and I'm just hearing about them now! And their website is HUGE! There is so much stuff it's overwhelming.

Here are the products that were so kindly sent to me for review:

I love the scent of Lavender, so I really enjoyed the scents, and the cleanser had a really pleasant Orange citrus scent.

The lipstick I received was in the color Blueberry Coulis. The lipstick was really moisturizing, but a little too moisturizing for me. I prefer my lipsticks to be more of a matte finish, because otherwise I tend to get my lipstick everywhere, so I felt like it was a bit slippery. I loved the color though and found that the packaging was elegant and classic and also recommend it for anyone who enjoys a more moisturized finish or looking for something that's Animal Cruelty Free or/and Vegan! This was my first time venturing down that road, and I am quite pleased. Would love to see what else is out there! ;)