One reason I love snail mail (part 3)…

Just got my July BirchBox in the mail. 

Here’s the rundown of what was in my box (prices are for full-size product):

Earbuds:  $10 (approximately)
Color Protection:  $24
Tinted Moisturizer:  $38
Perfume:  $98
Lipstick:  $22
Fruit & Nut Bar:  $25.35 (for a box of 15 or approximately $1.69/bar)

TOTAL:  $217.35

Since I paid $10 for the trial size box I saved $207.35 (if you figure I could have purchased these in their full-sized varieties). 

Alterna Bamboo Fade-Proof Fluide

Here’s what the website says:  Weightlessly shields hair with a UVA/UVB barrier to fade-proof color while enhancing vibrancy & multi-dimensional shine.  With rinse resistant Color Hold® UV+ Technology for the highest level of color protection.  Clinically Proven to retain color and brightness for 60 washes.

 Problem:  I don’t color my hair.  In fact, the only person I know who does color their hair is my mom and she gets hers highlighted.  Can highlighted hair color fade?  I mean, it’s bleached.  I don’t think it can.  So, I’ve got to find someone who doesn’t bleach their hair and have them try this out. 

 Jourer Luminizing Moisture Tint

Here’s what the website says:  This lightweight moisturizing tint evens out imperfections and fades the appearance of fine lines with its light-diffusing multi-mineral formula. SPF 20 protects from UVA and UVB rays while Ginseng and Gingko Biloba Leaf Extract deliver antioxidants to skin, promoting a healthy complexion.  Oil Free. Hypoallergenic. Fragrance Free. Water Resistant. Perfect for all skin types.

 Problem:  The color that they sent is ‘bronze’ which is their 5th darkest shade… and I’m part albino (not really, I’m just seriously pale).  So, when I tested this color out on my hand (definitely the most tanned part of my body) it’s reaaaally dark and noticeable.  I’d look ridiculous if I tried this out.  Sooo… my mom has mentioned that she wants to try a new foundation and she has darker and more olive-toned skin so I have a distinct feeling she’s going to get to try this baby out. 

Oscar de la Renta live in love Perfume

Here’s what the website says:  Introducing Live in Love – the new fragrance for women created by a man who adores them. Inspired by Oscar de la Renta’s passion for life, the scent is a reflection of the woman who lives each day the same, filled with joy and beauty.

It doesn’t do anything for me personally but I can see how someone would like it.  I think it’s something my mom might like so she might be getting this one as well.  It doesn’t smell bad or anything, it’s just not ‘me’.

Stila Lip Glaze in action (that’s the name of the color)

Here’s what the website says: Want lips that get all the attention they deserve? Turn on the shine and you’ll be turning heads with Stila’s most popular lip gloss.  Choose from an array of delectable shades that add a splash of color and fabulously matching flavors and scents in one easy click of this famous pen.

 Problem:  I can’t find this shade for sale (or even listed) on their website.  (note:  this is probably due to the fact that it’s from the limited edition It’s Go Time Lip Glaze Trio… but I can’t find that either).  Which sucks because I love this color.  It’s a pinky gold.  Sooo pretty.  I haven’t actually tried it on yet but it’s totally a color I would buy in the store.  I’m curious to see how it wears since it’s not long wearing.  In addition, the applicator is a little strange.  You actually turn the dial at the bottom and it pushes the gloss up in between the bristles.  I’m hoping it’s a good design but I have a feeling it’s going to be messy.  We’ll see.

LARABAR Roasted Nut Roll

Here’s what the website says:  It’s true, we’re nuts about nuts over here at LÄRABAR, and Roasted Nut Roll is a sure sign that we are still as passionate about them as ever. A sweet and salty standout, the shining stars of this bar are the almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts that bring the crunch and the flavor we go nuts for.

 Problem:  I don’t really like nuts.  So… I gave this to my friend G at work and let her try it.  Here’s what she had to say… ‘I ate the little nutty bar a little bit ago…it was very good…130 calories w/80 of those fat for 2 bites…kinda high and not sure I would want to spend the calories on it unless I didn’t have anything else…but the taste was really good.’  We all know that nuts are high in calories and in fat but supposedly it’s mostly good fat.  So, one of these little bars is probably your daily allowance for nuts.  It does have 5 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. 

 I’d definitely have to say the bar I got last time was waaaaay better.

Birchbox Earbuds

Here’s what the website says:  Whether we’re jogging through the park or powering through a laptop session, earbuds are one of our constant accessories. So we started thinking: why stick with the same boring white pair we’ve been using for years? We designed these custom pink and green or pink and blue neon earbuds so we can rock out to our favorite tunes in style. They’re extra-durable and extra-comfy—now that’s music to our ears.

Problem:  If you love these neon earbuds you’re out of luck… they’re not for sale.  Also, I have a pair already that I love and that fit my teeny tiny ears just perfect. 

All in all you’d think that I’d be bummed about this month’s box since I’m not going to end up keeping much besides the lipstick but you’d be wrong.  I’m actually really excited about the lipstick.  AND I get to give the unwanted goodies to some friends/family members and I love giving people stuff so that works out well.  I love getting goodies in the mail, don’t you?

Recipe Review: Apple Dumplings

Did you have a good Mother’s Day?  Whether you’re a mom and you got celebrated or you celebrated your own mom (or grandma, aunts, etc) I hope it was a great one.

We had my mom over and we had a simple late lunch of shish kabobs and saffron rice.  We make shish kabobs using chicken breasts, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, orange bell pepper, white or yellow onion and usually squash and zucchini.  Apparently though, the squash and zucchini supply this year really stinks because the produce department at my local store refused delivery of the latest shipment because they were so crummy looking.  I couldn’t even find them frozen!  So, we made the kabobs sans squash/zucchini.  They were still yummmmy.  We just marinate them for a few hours in Wish Bone Robusto Italian Dressing then the Hubs grills them on the grill.

We also use Mahatma saffron rice (in the yellow package in the rice section of your grocery store).  We looooove this stuff and it complements the kabobs really well.

I made a new dish for dessert that turned out AH-MAY-ZHING!  Having never made the recipe before I followed everything verbatim from the recipe just like I normally do when I make something for the first time.  This recipe is called Apple Dumplings and it’s out of the book Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood.  I didn’t, and wouldn’t, change a thing.  It’s fabulous just the way it is.  You should definitely try this.  It’s incredibly easy too!  In the book it’s listed as a breakfast recipe but it can easily double as a dessert recipe too!

click here to buy this book (totally worth every cent)

Apple Dumplings

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 canned buttermilk biscuits (not reduced-fat or anything ‘different’)
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  • Peel, core, and slice the apples vertically into 8 slices each.  Cover with water to keep the slices from turning brown.
  • In a medium saucepan, mix the water, ¾ cup of the sugar, the butter, and the vanilla.  Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  • Separate each biscuit into 2 layers.  Wrap a biscuit layer around a slice of apple, stretching the biscuit slightly to overlap, and seal on the bottom.  Place the wrapped slices, sealed side down, in a 9 x 12 x 2-inch casserole dish.  Pour the hot sugar mixture over the apple slices.  Mix the remaining ¼ cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the wrapped apples.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

Here’s the delicious picture straight from the book:

Here’s the picture that I took (as you can see, I’m not a very good photographer):

sidenote:  all you people out there who say ‘I’m not a baker’ this recipe is totally for YOU!

I’m linking this recipe up to a couple of blog parties.

Bloom Designs
Chef In Training
Creatively Living
I Heart Naptime
Mommy by Day, Crafter by Night
My Girlish Whims
One Artsy Mama
Simply Designing
Skip to my Lou
Under the Table and Dreaming

Unexpected Visitor

So we had a little unexpected visitor at our house last night.

Meet Mr. Cheeps (yes, we named him).  Sorry for the crummy picture but it really needed a flash and I just didn’t want to scare the bajesus out of the poor baby so I didn’t use it. 

This sweet little guy (gal?) was just hanging out on our front stoop at 10:30pm.  The hubs noticed him when he took the pup out to do her business and when he was coming back in the door, he saw this dark lump in the corner.  At first, he thought it was a big frog since we have several that live under the stoop.  Upon closer inspection though, he realized this little guy was definitely not a frog.  He called me over to come take a look and asked me what we should do.  I immediately thought of our two neighbors and the fact that they BOTH have outdoor cats.  I just couldn’t stand the thought of this guy being a midnight snack.  So, we grabbed a small dish towel and a large box and the little guy spent the night with us.  And we didn’t eat him.  I promise. 

He’s a fledgling Blue Jay and my best guess is that he was attempting to take his first flight and went seriously off course.  He let me pick him up without fighting me at all which leads me to believe that he can’t fly all that well or might have injured himself (although there were no apparent injuries).  I looked and looked for his mama or papa but didn’t see or hear anything.  I haven’t seen a Blue Jay in our yard for quite a while since we stopped feeding the birds when mom moved out so my guess is, like I previously mentioned, he’s rather far from home. 

He seemed content in his box when I checked on him this morning.  I couldn’t tell if he ate any of the bread that we left him or drank the water but he did leave me a ‘present’ so I’m hoping that means he both ate and drank.  We went for a little ride in my car this morning which he was not happy about.  It was the first time I heard him make a sound in nearly twelve hours and Mr. Cheeps cheeped the whole ride long.  I dropped him off at the local animal shelter (the one where I volunteer each week) and I’m sure that they’ll take good care of him and get him nursed back to health and when he’s ready, they’ll release him back into the wild.

It begins… Master Bedroom/Bathroom Renovation

So I know I mentioned a while back that my mom moved out of the house.  We stayed and are renting it from her for the time being.  We’re also renovating the house.  Nothing major, we’re not tearing down walls or anything, but we’re ripping down wall paper, patching sheetrock, painting, replacing plumbing fixtures, etc etc.  Like I said, nothing major… except we’re doing it to the ENTIRE house.  It’s not a small house either.  We’ve decided to start on the master bedroom & bathroom since they’re the rooms that are currently vacant.  The other day we sat down and made a list of everything we want to do.  Are you ready?

MASTER BEDROOM / CLOSET

  1. Have an electrician run wiring for a ceiling fan (what we have now isn’t up to code)
  2. Install a new ceiling fan
  3. Have tile repaired at sinkhole
  4. Patch the sheetrock and repair corners
  5. Texture and repaint sheetrock
  6. Fill, sand, and repaint all wood trim (including doors/cabinets)
  7. Clean and repaint if needed all air vents
  8. Clean and repaint if needed all light can covers
  9. Replace all electrical plugs and switches
  10. Replace doorstops
  11. Clean goop (some sort of super-old caulking) off windows with razorblade

MASTER BATHROOM

  1. Have tile repaired (broken grout)
  2. Remove wallpaper
  3. Patch, texture, repaint sheetrock
  4. Sand, fill, repaint all wood trim (including doors/cabinets)
  5. Clean and repaint if needed all air vents
  6. Clean and repaint if needed all light can covers
  7. Gut & replace sink plumbing at both sinks
  8. Recaulk shower
  9. Recaulk vanities
  10. Recaulk toilet and replace china caps
  11. Replace cabinet hardware
  12. Replace towel bar in shower
  13. Replace 4 towel bars around toilet
  14. Replace all electrical plugs and switches

This may not seem like much but with the plethora of things we have going on, it’s a LOT.  All we’ve managed to do so far is take down all of the pictures, picture hooks, shelves, and various other ‘removables’ from the wall.  We also got a wallpaper removal lesson from a neighbor who is a professional painter and we purchased the new faucets for the sinks.  That’s it though.  So far our weekends have been jam packed with ‘normal’ upkeep stuff (mowing, vacuuming, etc etc etc) so we haven’t gotten to even touch the room.  My hope is to dedicate a few hours to it each weekend but we’ll see if that actually happens. 

I didn’t get a chance to take any before photos because the Hubs was soooo happy to start on this room.  However, this is what it looks like right now minus all the ‘removables.’ 

See those vertical lines?  Those are where shelving brackets used to be.  There used to be shelves along this entire wall. 

Don’t you just love our foundation damage?  This is what happens after 3 foundation repairs.  Nice huh? 

  

Conversations with aging parents…

I love my parents but it is kind of strange that they’re basically old enough to be my grandparents.  It was a bit odd growing up and being two generations apart instead of one.  I totally get why they waited to have kids (or kid in this case).  They traveled, saw the world, had FUN… and then had me (and it all went to hell… just kidding).  It’s interesting though, going through life in my twenties with parents who are in their seventies (my dad) and sixties (my mom).  I get to have conversations like this… 

Let’s set the stage. 

Here’s a picture of my wonderful husband:

Here’s the picture that one of his relatives posted on Facebook:

Here’s the conversation with my mom that ensued:

ME: Thought you’d like this… one of Husbands relatives posted this on Facebook today.  Isn’t my husband ADORABLE!?!?!

MOM: Don’t really get it.  Who is saying “Isn’t my husband adorable?”

ME: ME!

MOM: Now I REALLY DON’T get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ME: Oh my god, mom, it’s so not that complicated. Someone posted THE PICTURE on Facebook.  It’s a picture of my husband, his brother, and their grandfather. Doesn’t He (my husband) look ADORABLE in the photo?

MOM:  Well, It is complicated when you have no idea who these people are.  There is NO way I would have recognized Husband and I have never seen his brother (not true btw, he’s been to our house before) or their grandfather.  Why in heavens name would you think I would know these people?????????????

ME: Are you crazy?  Husband looks EXACTLY THE SAME – just 25 years older!  You’re bananas.  Even G (work friend), who has met Husband all of ONCE recognized him.  I love you.  You need new glasses.

Think you had a crazy day? Try this on for size…

First thing Monday morning I learned that a very dear friend of mine suffered a seizure over the weekend.  Upon searching for the cause of the seizure the doctors learned that she has a golf ball sized tumor in her brain.  She’s having surgery Tuesday morning.  My prayers are with her and her family during this time.

I received an email from a friend about Obama and Air Force One.  I won’t go into it because if we’re friends then I forwarded you the email so you already know what I’m talking about.  Long story short I received several emails back saying it wasn’t true blah blah blah.  I’m not surprised the part about the airplane isn’t true.  The part about him traveling more than any other president though?  I wouldn’t be surprised if that is true.  Even if it isn’t it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t stand the guy. 

I left work early Monday to go see a podiatrist.  I’ve been having this pain in my left foot for the last month or so and I finally decided to go have it checked out.  Turns out, I have a neuroma.  If you don’t know, here’s what a neuroma is (as per the Mayo Clinic) “Morton’s neuroma involves a thickening of the tissue around one of the nerves leading to your toes. In some cases, Morton’s neuroma causes a sharp, burning pain in the ball of your foot. Your toes also may sting, burn or feel numb.”  Solution?  A series of shots in my foot over the next few weeks.  If you know me you know that I basically equate needles with the concept of being burned alive – I’m not a fan.  Also, if you know me you know that when it comes to the concept of ‘fight or flight’ that I’m ALLLL fight.  Basically, this means that when someone has to give me a shot or take blood, they’re in serious risk of getting a black eye.  I don’t faint, I don’t puke… I struggle against the very strong desire to punch someone in the nose and walk out.  Happily for me and the doctor issuing the shot, I didn’t punch anyone.  Yay for self-restraint.  I have to do it all over again in a week too.  Yippee.  (sidenote:  anyone remember that I broke my pinkie toe on my left foot TWICE last year?  Yeah… turns out that sucker is STILL broken!  Craziness!)

At the doctor’s office I received a call from the hubs that his truck broke down and he was stranded on the side of the road.  He’d called AAA and was waiting for the tow truck driver to come tow him to our mechanic.  We think it’s the transmission.  Needless to say I’m less than thrilled with this news. 

Upon finally arriving home I was welcomed by the sound of hacking and coughing – turns out my mom is sick.  Lovely. 

Guess what today is folks?  Mom’s moving day!  That means that movers will be traipsing in and out of our house all day long while my dog goes bananas and mom sniffles and coughs on them.  Oh, and the roofer is coming today to put on a new roof – we’ve been trying to have that done for over a month now but it keeps freaking raining on the days we have it scheduled.  So, that means that there’ll be lots of roofing nails around our house after today.  With my luck, I’ll step on one like I did when I was a child and end up in the ER tonight getting MORE shots in my foot.