Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A New View

My week of proposed blogging has definitely not happened. We are in the process of moving, and currently are without internet or TV. It's been quite the endeavor, you forget how much work it is to move, until you are in the thick of it. It's been a hectic week, and Easter is on the horizon, at this rate we will be eating pizza on the floor a la picnic style for the holiday.

So for now, until next week, when I can share more about the new place- enjoy the new view from my bow window.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Missing Houston Peach Pie

Spring has officially begun around here. Or so they say, but today it snowed, again. Dear warm weather- feel feel to arrive anytime now.....

We've been packing up a storm around here, moving out to our new very Mad Men inspired house that we will be renting for the next year. In the process of moving, and cleaning out things, my husband oh so sweetly reminded me that the tens of thousands of magazines I have been collecting for the last year, will not be making the move. So I sat down and started going through all of them, and came across a copy of Southern Living magazine about peaches. I had picked this copy up on one of my many trips home from Houston, and had planned to make peach cobbler for my dad. Well, that never happened, and the magazine has just been sitting in my guest bedroom for over a year. Seeing the magazine, however, made me miss Houston, and started thinking of all the little things I miss about living there. One of them being eating peach cobbler from Rudy's BBQ. If you ever find yourself in Houston, make sure you go there, you won't be disappointed.

I did throw the magazine out (I'm trying not to be a future candidate for Hoarders), and did I decide to make peach cobbler? No, of course not, my line of reasoning never makes sense, instead I decided to make peach pie. So last week, I ventured to the store, came home all ready to make peach pie, but never quite got around to it. This moving thing has just thrown everything off.

Tonight I couldn't sleep and found this recipe.

Here are the ingredients I used (yes, I used canned peaches on this one, feel free to judge me). Also feel free to be jealous of my very fabulous and very yellow Pyrex bowl.

I'm cheating on the pie crust too.....

After heating the oven to 425 degrees F, mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.

Pyrex bowl I found caked in dirt in my Bachi's garage. 

Then combine with the cans of peaches (I used two large cans, but probably could have used another half of can). Mix until well blended.

Looks like caramel 

Next, unroll the pie crust (yes, I used ready made pie crust) and pour the peach mixture into your pie plate. My adorable pie plate was a shower gift from my aunt.

fingers crossed that this comes out perfect.

Put dots of butter over the mixture.

Not much to say about that...

Then cover with pie crust  and dust with sugar, the recipe says 2 tbsp but after pouring that on there it just seemed like quite a bit of sugar, feel free to add  a bit of cinnamon for flavor.

It looks like it is swimming in sugar....
Be sure to cover the edges with foil so they wont burn - and then pop in the oven for 30 mins.

Find something to do for thirty minutes (I watched Community), take the pie out of the oven and remove the foil. Place back in the oven for another ten minutes.

And now, Peach Pie Heaven. Yum. Here's hoping our volunteer movers enjoy this on Saturday for the big move.

I cannot promise that this will make it to Saturday....

Up next week- details about the new place, reviews on Sample Society's March 2013 box,  and my Mimi's apple pie.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chocolate Eclair Squares

         March 14th is Pi Day, and trust me, I'm going to be making a pie. My husband has requested an apple pie, he was having none of the peach pie that I had bought the supplies for the other day. So that will be on the agenda tomorrow night, along with our tradition of watching Pushing Daisies (the pie maker!). I know we really should be packing, we are getting the keys to the new place on Friday, but my motivation is just not there, and in the battle of packing vs. watching Lee Pace, the obvious answer is watching Lee Pace
         I decided to finally make something for work and thought Chocolate Eclair Squares would be the perfect thing. It is my favorite dessert to make in the summer, because it is so easy to make, cheap, and most people love it. Maybe by making it, we can erase all this snow that decided to come our way after a few wonderful warm days. I thought we were in the clear for spring, apparently I was wrong. 
         I found the recipe here a few years ago. You can do variations on it, for example, one year I made it chocolate peanut butter eclair pie, that was a big hit with my uncle, who is a total peanut butter fiend. My best suggestion for the recipe is that the longer it sits, the better it tastes, similar to tiramisu, letting it all absorb in together. The recipe recommends four and a half hours of refrigerator time, I would say overnight tastes better, and most times I try to make it two days in advance. 

So let's begin- first the ingredients 

The recipe calls for vanilla instant pudding, tonight I went with French Vanilla

Next you add two cups of milk to the two packages of instant pudding, and mix until there is thicker consistency- basically until it looks like the yellow part of the cadbury egg creme.

Stir in the 8 oz. of cool whip and mix until well blended 

You can use pretty much whatever you want for the pan, sometimes I use a pie plate, tonight I decided to use my white casserole dish from Crate and Barrel that was one of our shower gifts. I love this dish because the side reminds me of frosting. I think it might have actually been called a frosting casserole or something to that effect.....
nice and pretty

Next, take the nilla wafers and cover the bottom of the dish.....

Then you cover the layer of wafers with the pudding and cool whip mix.

Try not to eat too much of the filling as you go...
Add another layer of nilla wafers......

It's all coming together....

And another layer of the filling and cover with a last layer of wafers. Refrigerate overnight. 

Ready for the refrigerator 

A few hours before you are going to serve the squares, melt the semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave or using a double boiler. Pour over the wafers and refrigerate. Refrigerate again- the chocolate will harden. 

oooh chocolate.....

Sometimes I have extra when I make this, so  my husband will be getting a mini one. He'll be excited when he opens the refrigerator tomorrow and sees this for his lunch. He was jealous that my work was getting the squares. 

He's spoiled. 

That's it- you're done! Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ipsy Bag March 2013 Review

I don't know what it is but each month when I open the mail and find this pink bag inside, I get so excited.

The theme of this month's Ipsy bag was The Great Escape.

The cosmetic bag that came with the samples was super cute. They did an adorable anchor print on the bag, and it showed that Ipsy really listened to its customers who have been asking for months to get a print on a bag, anchors was one of the most requested comments that I saw on their Facebook page, and it a was a nice break from all the solid colored bags that have started to accumulate in my train case.

Isn't it cute?
So let's delve inside.......

my new favorite makeup remover wipes

LA Fresh Travel-lite Makeup Remover Wipes - I loved these little towelettes.The smell is really fresh on them, and I used them tonight to wipe off my makeup, my face feels really refreshed and clean. They also made my skin feel really smooth. I will definitely be buying more of them.

Yaby Eyeshadow Refills- My two colors were sand dune and so vein. I was pleasantly surprised by these two colors. When I first opened the bag, I thought the colors were a repeat of the horrible shades that were sent to me last month with the coastal scents pack.  The brown looked a little too on the yellow side for me, but I mixed it with a darker shade, and loved the look. I even experimented with the green shade, which is completely out of my comfort zone of eye makeup, and liked it. I don't know where I will ever need to wear green eye shadow but it was fun trying out a new color.  I will be checking out other colors from this brand. 

so pretty and pink

 GlamRX Mini Freestyle Palette-  Inside was a magnetic holder  for small little eye shadows.....check it out.....

I used the eye shadows from this month inside

I thought this was an adorable addition to the bag this month, and will be perfect for travel in the upcoming months. It also has me interested in buying more of the eye shadows to make my own palette. This will definitely be going into my purse for on the go makeup. 

Juice Beauty Hydrating Mist Spray- I used this tonight after wiping down my face with the new makeup remover wipes, and loved it. I have been very curious about this brand, and feel its been popping up everywhere, but hadn't had the chance to try it yet. The spray smells lightly of roses but it felt nice and refreshing. I imagine it would feel nice on the face after being on a plane for a long duration. I'll be throwing this into my purse. 

Overall this was yet another great bag from Ipsy, it had one of the fewest amounts of samples thus far since I subscribed, but I loved everything. 

What did you think of this month's Ipsy bag?

Birchbox March 2013 Review

Birchbox March 2013

So Birchbox, I know I said I was going to cancel this subscription, and I meant to...but then tons of things sort of hit the fan. This last month and a half has just been extremely hectic for this household, we are moving, I've been severely sick with no end in sight, so with hospital and doctor visits, packing and just overall upheaval, I never got around to actually cancelling my Birchbox subscription. 

My Birchbox arrived on Monday, and the theme for this month's box being March Madness. What is actually has to do with March Madness is beyond me. 

So without further adieu I bring you Birchbox's March box.

March Madness theme??? I don't see it.

The cure for lazy days?
Serge Normant Meta Revive Dry Shampoo- value $12
This item was a disappointment  I've been hearing so much about dry shampoo products lately, they are all the rage. It is supposed to revive your hair if you haven't had a chance to shampoo it, and give you a quick get up and go look. I tried it this morning, and thought I would go without shampooing my hair for the day, but oh it was horrible.  It came out like white powder and instead of reviving my hair, all it did was make it look greasy and gross. It is supposed to take the oil out of your hair, but that didn't seem to work.  I washed my  hair as planned and this will end up in my random beauty things for my guests when they visit box.  This may work for someone else, but my hair is so thick and prone to oil that is just exacerbated the issue.

Mostly Empty Shaving Cream....cute packaging

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream- value about $3
In the March 2013 spoiler video from Birchbox, they showcased this product, and I was hoping it would be in my sample box. I was very happy to see it and used it this morning. The shaving cream smells lightly like blueberry- but the sample was pretty much empty. This is the second time that Birchbox has sent me a sample that was mostly air, and last time I said nothing, but this time I did write them to let them know it was an issue. Curious to see what they say about that, but overall, I loved this shaving cream, the area I was able to attack with the amount in the tube felt super smooth, and the scent was amazing. However with a full size price of $20- I will stick to my current shaving cream.

cute colors, for a cheap look 

Incoco Nail Polish Applique- value $9
These are nail polish strips that you can apply to your nails for a flawless manicured look. I thought they would be stickers, but they are in fact actually layers of nail polish- you can smell it as soon as you open the package. I like the colors that my set came in, and was curious to try them- they look like fun, a very summery look. I am horrible at painting my own nails, they always come out a mess, so I was hoping these would work out and be a blessing for me. However, they were a total bust. My nails are very tiny and even with stretching the nail polish they were difficult to cover even my pinky finger. Once that was all worked out, and one was on, I immediately took it off, it looked cheap. Really cheap.

In case you didn't know what an emery board looked like

Madewell for Birchbox Emery Board - value $5
This had a cute little floral print, but its an emery board. What can you even say about an emery board? 

The twistband

Twistband- value about $3
You guys may remember my rant about Birchbox's love of sending these out, and of course I had to get one this month. Even though people seem to love them, and say they are one of the best headbands on the market, I didn't see the big deal. It didn't even want to stay on my head. I felt that throwing in the twistband and emery board was pure laziness on the part of birchbox, just throwing in random things to fill up a box. 

oh Birchbox, its just not going to work out between us. This was the second date that I gave you even though the first date was a bust, and well, its not you, its...oh who am I  kidding, its you. It's definitely you. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Birchbox Sample Box February 2013


I joined Birchbox this month after a four week wait; they are so popular right now that they have a crazy waiting list. Four weeks, and apparently that is one of the shorter waits.  The box costs ten dollars a month which also includes shipping. They boast that they send out deluxe and full size samples. Each box should have four or five samples per month. They are one of the original sample box subscription services, allegedly the one that started it all.   With such hype, I was sure that I would be blown away by this subscription, since it was something that everyone wanted to get in on.  I’m not kidding, there was so much hype. Surely, I wouldn't be disappointed in it.

The FAMOUS Birchbox has arrived......

My February Birchbox was a Red Carpet theme (real original). 

My box included the following five products:

Juicy Perfume Sample- I don’t even care about the value, because I hated this scent. It reminded me of something a tween would wear, and felt it was a rip off to be in the box. It certainly wasn't a deluxe sample size of a perfume. I could have gotten this for FREE from pretty much any beauty place.


Color Club Professional Nail Lacquer Mini in Wild Cactus - .25 oz Value $4- This is a really cute color that’s more of an emerald shade. Very fun. 

So adorable! I just wish it was bigger......

Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle - estimated 1.25 oz. - The value of this sample was $4.12. I really liked this product, and have been using it on my hair, the scent makes me feel like I just came from the salon.  It reminds me of coconut.
Perfume for the hair

Ghiradelli Caramel Chocolate Square- Um, Seriously???? No. Sure I love chocolate as much as the next person, but I don’t want chocolate in my sample box, this is not a sample, this is just a random piece of chocolate and a brand I could find anywhere.   Just No.  (okay so my snark could be coming from the fact that I can’t have chocolate right now and had to relinquish this to my husband). But even so- no. 

Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox Beauty Balm-0.1 oz -The value of this is around $2.00.  Well, I would imagine it was the value if it actually had much of anything in it. Mostly air in this one, and the little that I got out didn’t work on my skin tone. I was excited to get this at first because of all the hype about BB creams. 

Mostly air

Value: The total value of this box is maybe $12 or $13. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.  

I will be nice and say that one pro that I have heard about Birchbox is that they send out a variety of boxes each month. I think it’s almost forty (or maybe even more) different varieties, which I think is pretty cool. It makes it a bit of a surprise.  My box was not overwhelming by any means, but some of the boxes that I saw other people received looked really great.  The big thing was that Lancôme had finally signed on with them as a brand this month, so everything on their site was all about the arrival of Lancôme. That’s wonderful-if I had ACTUALLY received a Lancôme product in my bag.

Birchbox was a big letdown for me- I had a hard time even coming up with a single pro since I was just so disappointed with this box.  Everyone claims that this is THE sample box to have, and I wanted to cancel my subscription as soon as it arrived. They claim that they send out deluxe and full size samples, but their version of deluxe is no different than the tiny samples that you can get at any Sephora or cosmetics counter. I’d rather just go to those places and possibly pick out what I want, and not  get these tiny RANDOM things in my box. I feel it’s ridiculous to pay ten dollars a month to get samples that come FREE with any purchase elsewhere.  The value just wasn't there for me.  I paid ten dollars to get $10.00 worth of products, no thanks.  This was not a bargain, not when you compare them to the value of the other boxes.
Second, I've heard some horrible things about delivering. This was the last of my sample boxes to arrive, all of which are supposed to mail out around the same time. I will mark this up to Nemo being a huge issue that week, BUT I have read that other people have had many incidences where their box didn't arrive until the last day of the month. 
Next, Birchbox offers a variety in boxes, this I think is great- however don’t bother sending out varieties if you aren't going to take into consideration the beauty profile. Many people complained that they received products that were the opposite of what they had for hair type or skin color.  Variety is wonderful, but not if it’s a useless variety to the person.
Also, the amount of samples was a letdown. They claim they send four or five samples.  Mine had four with the chocolate.  Okay so it is four samples BUT you’re not fooling anyone with that chocolate and honestly- what does that even have to do with red carpet? Everyone knows you don’t eat for weeks before going on the red carpet.
Lastly, Birchbox like Sample Society loves to repeat items. Many people complained that they received hair bands in this month’s box, last month’s box, and in DECEMBER’s box. Ugh. No.  Do NOT send the same thing three months in a row.  Birchbox also has a fondness for sending out their Birchbox pillow boxes in their bags and love putting Juicy perfume samples in them as well.  I’m not a fan of juicy perfume, and have no use for those little boxes.  This doesn’t just apply to the women’s boxes- one of my friends did the male box for almost a year, and cancelled because he felt there were only so many shaving cream samples you could get.  He thought they lacked in variety of product.
If you can’t guess by now, this is not a subscription that I will be continuing. 

Sample Society February 2013 Review

Sample Society By Allure
Sample Society is a sample box sponsored by Allure magazine through It’s a little more expensive than Ipsy at $15 a month including shipping.  Like Ipsy, you are billed the first of the month, and the boxes are due to arrive by the 15th. This month my box arrived the first week of February.  It was the first of my sample boxes to arrive this month.

The Sample Society Box
My box for February included the following items:

oooh lovely.....

Immunocologie Treatment Cream- 0.5 oz. This was valued at $80! That alone made the box completely worth it. The cream is interesting, a bit watery in its consistency but feels nice on the face. However, once this is gone, I won’t be buying a full size which costs more than $270. It also has some weird kind of antler velvet or something to that effect in it, and I can’t explain it but it makes me feel a little guilty putting that on my face.

Crazy expensive face cream

LaRocca Hibiscus Cream Cleanser with AHA- 7ml- This was a small sample that was valued at $0.50.  This had a really nice scent to it, and didn't irritate my skin when I used it to wash my face.  I only got one use out of it.
so very tiny

Oscar Blandi Hair Lift Thickening & Strengthening Mousse- 1 oz- This product had a $4.00 value. I don’t use mousse regularly in my hair routine,   I will most likely passing it on to mother.  The product is supposed to strengthen and thicken your hair. My hair is pretty thick, so it’s not even something I would need. However, I did like the scent of it.

my mom's new mousse

Exude Lipstick Gloss – This was a full size product valued at $29.00. The color that came in my box was a soft brown/nude shade, which upon opening I thought would look horrible on me since I have pale skin. However, I was very surprised at how the nude color actually worked. The color lasted a long time.

Really cool packaging

Diptyque Eau De Toilette – 2 mL – This sample was valued at $2.00. I also hated the smell; it was very strong and musky, way too much for me to wear.  It reminded me of those horrible scent satchels that my grandmother used to hang in her closet or put in her bureau. I’m not a fan of any musk scents. My mother will be getting this one as well (white musk was her signature scent for YEARS)- she’s going to love this box.  However, from what I've read from other reviewers and subscribers, sample society seems to love to send this out.
old lady French perfume

Overall Value:  $115.50! This was truly an amazing value and made the price of the box more than worth it.

Quick Delivery- my box arrived the first week of February! It was my first subscription box to receive this month.
Amazing Customer Service- I had two issues with my box this month. First, when I opened the box they had packaged it with black confetti paper, but something happened in transport and everything in the box was covered in black soot. I mean COVERED. Even after I had wiped all the products down, it still had that black soot like consistency on most of the products.  My second issue was that one of my products was empty- yes, empty. I emailed the company to let them know and was given a response that I would get a replacement of that product.  I was VERY shocked and pleased when a NEW box arrived.  This is excellent customer service in my book!
Value- Like Ipsy this box proved to be a great value, and then getting the second box was just the icing on the cake. Paying 15.90 for over 200 dollars’ worth of products?? Priceless.
As much as I liked so many things about Sample Society, I won’t be renewing or keeping this sample subscription.  The products in this box were nice and expensive, but I can’t see myself spending two hundred dollars on a face lotion, and the reason I get these boxes is to try different brands that I still can AFFORD.  I have no issues trying a bare minerals lipstick and then knowing that I like it, buying it for twenty dollars, but trying a sample of a $275 dollar face cream and falling in love with it? That’s just torture.  I also felt the brands were just a little too hoity toity for me- they reminded me of products that a seventy year  old woman who wore Chanel suits and lived in the upper east side would wear. I don’t need snobby French brands. Give me fun packaging and things that are in my TAX bracket.
My second issue was that from what I’ve been reading from other subscribers, they tend to send the same things out and often sometimes two months in a row.  I subscribe to these boxes to try new things, I can understand that sometimes products will be repeats, but I certainly don’t want to get the same sample of something two months in a row. Apparently their favorite to send out is the Diptyque perfume.
Lastly, I also can’t explain it, but it’s easier to say I spend ten dollars a month on a box, somehow going up that extra five dollars sounds frivolous.  Maybe down the road I would revisit this sample box, but for now- it’s getting cancelled.  However, that is not to say that I don’t recommend this to people. It was a great value, just maybe not the right fit for me right now. 

Ipsy Sample Box February 2013 Review


Ipsy is a sample box subscription that costs only ten dollars a month (this includes shipping). You are billed monthly the first of every month, and the boxes are shipped out by the 15th. Thus far, I have never had an issue with either shipping or billing, in fact most months by the time they send me an email notifying me of the shipment of my bag- the box has already arrived or will arrive the next day.  The sample bag comes each month in a bright pink (really bright pink) envelope and inside you get a cosmetic makeup bag (each month it’s a different one and often a different size, for example in December the bag was the perfect size for carrying makeup brushes because it was longer in length).  Included in the subscription are four or five deluxe size samples of hair, makeup, face, or nail products.
My Sample box this month was the theme of Red Carpet Ready. The makeup was black patent leather. 
February 2013's cosmetic bag
Inside were the following products:

The Goodies.....

Pop Beauty Smoky Lash Kapow- This was a full size sample that was valued at $18.50. I had never heard of this brand before, the packaging is cute, but I haven’t tried it yet.  I feel like I am swimming in mascara samples recently. I'm sure its fabulous- Ipsy has yet to steer me wrong with their mascara selections.
Pop Beauty Smoky Lash Mascara

MICA Beauty Cosmetics Mineral Makeup Gel Eyeliner- This wasn't labeled for the size, but a full size is valued at over $35.00 and this was a very substantial size- so who knows,  it might actually be full size.  I was very excited that this was in this month’s bag because in January’s bag one of the products had been an eyeliner brush.  I love this product! Easy to apply and really creates an impact.

MICA Beauty Cosmetics Gel Eyeliner

 Lash Cards- This was valued at $3.50. They are supposed to prevent mascara from clumping. I love them! Others have complained about this being a product this month because they often just use business cards for the same effect.  They felt they were worthless, I don’t think they are, and when I am done, I can use business cards like them.  Sometimes, I just like getting things in the bags, because I hadn't heard that this was a trick to use, and now I know.

Lash Card Packaging 

Coastal Scents Mini Eyeshadow Quad- I couldn't find a value on these, and I hated them. I hated the colors that came in my bag. None of them looked good on me, they had sent out two varieties of this, and neither variety looked like it would work on me.  Mine had a weird gold color and from the other colors that I saw- can’t imagine that they would look good on many people at all. However, I think this the first ever product that I have received from them that I didn't like.

Worst colors ever for me.....

Pixi Flawless and Poreless- 0.5 oz- This was valued at $15.00. Primers are my thing right now; I’m obsessed with trying them since I lost the lottery when it came to the size of my pores.  I've only used this once since like mascaras, I also have quite a few primers right now from either previous subscription bags or samples from Sephora.  I liked the consistency of this primer and helped to fill in my pores for a smoother look. I will continue to use this after my Mirabella primer (so amazing) from the December Ipsy bag is finally gone.

Value- The total value of this bag was hard to gauge since sizes weren't included on some of the products, or values couldn't be found.  From the values I could find, and by guessing that the eyeliner was a full size product, this bag would be valued at over $70.00!!!

Fast shipping- as I said there has never been an issue with the bag going out late or not arriving before the 15th
Sample sizes- Many sample boxes out there give out only deluxe size samples, but Ipsy gives out both deluxe and full size products. They also claim to send out four or five samples each month, but since my subscription started last October I've never had anything less than five products in each bag.
Variety- So far I've not had any repeat products from Ipsy except for getting mascara in two bags but considering that you are supposed to throw those out pretty fast- this is not a complaint at all- you get lots of variety of brands and products- some months it’s all makeup while January focused on hair, nails and face. I love that it has introduced me to new brands and while in the past I may not have splurged on a lipstick not being sure if I would like it, but getting a sample size of it to try without guilt, would win me over as a consumer.
Value- Since I joined in October my bags have been valued at no less than 30 dollars each month, this is much higher than the ten dollar price tag. I've had in some bags, one product alone being worth thirty dollars in its size.  I’m a sucker for a good bargain, and to me this often feels like a steal.

I only have one complaint about my Ipsy subscription and that is some variety for different makeup profiles. They have you fill out a makeup profile, and yet everyone pretty much gets the same shade of lipstick (and it’s always a super bright orange red).  Orange red lipstick on a pale person just made me look like a clown.  Why bother with the profile if you are going to send everyone the same shade???

I really love my Ipsy subscription- I just find it to be a great value and worth the little splurge each month.  I really can’t say enough good things about it. Who doesn’t love getting a makeup kit each month??!