Pop Sugar Must Have Box: May

It’s been a while since Pop Sugar has really wowed me.  Since last fall, most boxes have been ho-hum with a couple items that I liked but the majority being items I won’t use or just are plain odd.  I’m pretty stoked that May’s box is pretty awesome and I think I will use every single item, which hasn’t happened in months!  WOO!  I’m glad I stuck with it.  I was kind of concerned since they have their 50% off promo going for the next box (use code GET50 for 50% off your next box) that the next couple would be weak boxes but I’m quite happy with this one!  WOO!

Pop Sugar Must Have Subscription Box May Contents

The Must Have May Box included the following products for a grand total of $121.87.

Charm & Chain, Gift Card $30.00
Kooringal Giselle Mid Brim Hat
, Graphite $27.99
Beautyblender Travel Kit, $23.95
Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk About Myself Deck
, $14.95
The Modern Margarita, Variety Pack $12.99
Pacifica Natural Color Quench Lip Tint, Guava Berry $7.00
Way Better Snacks, Sweet ChilI Tortilla Chips, $3.49
Pop Sugar Bag, $1.50 (?)

The gift card is maybe the only thing I won’t use in this box, thank god it’s not a subscription service like Pop Sugar’s past gift cards but their jewelry is pretty pricey so who knows if I’ll end up getting anything with it.  The good thing is that the expiration is in December so it may be a good thing to use when trying to complete an outfit.  The hat is a pretty neato idea – it folds up and unfolds and pops back into shape.  I’m not a big hat person but I do like them when I’m on the beach and being foldable makes it great for travel.  I LOVE the beautyblender I got with my Birchbox many moons ago and it’s starting to get a bit worn out so I’m thrilled to have a new one to replace it – I was just thinking about getting a new one so this was perfectly timed!!!  The card deck is kind of cool and it could be a great thing to have on hand at parties and gatherings when there’s some awkwardness to be around.  Even great for people you already know!  I love margaritas so the variety pack shall go to good use!  I am a chapstick-a-holic and adding a new one to my collection is always a win.  I also LOVE Pacifica’s line of stuff so I am happy to have another product of theirs to enjoy!!  I haven’t tried the snacks yet but they don’t look awful and the tote back can always be used.

Two thumbs up for a great bag this month Pop Sugar!  Woo!

 

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Pop Sugar Must Have Summer Box

After the Winter “special edition” box epic fail, I swore I’d not do another damn Pop Sugar “Special” box but I fell for it.  I figured that it couldn’t be any worse than the one for winter… and at least there I was right.  It is better, but I’m still underwhelmed.  However, I should use most of these items, unlike the Winter box which I used only two of the items.  I am also thanking the stars that none of that ___Mint shit is in this box.  SO over Style/Jewelry etc. Mint crap.  Pop Sugar’s monthly boxes have also been decidedly meh as well lately.  I’m not sure what’s going on.  It seems like there was a mass exit because they are offering a 50% off discount on the next box, use code GET50 to take advantage of that!

Pop Sugar Must Have Summer Box

House of Harlow Sunglasses

The Must Have Summer Box included the following products for a grand total of $301.95.

House of Harlow 1960 Sunglasses in Tilda, silver $125
Sachin + Babi Baroque Print Foulard Sarong $50
Truffle Classic Clarity Pouch $38
S’well stainless steel bottle in Pink $35
Henri Bendel Lilac Scented Candle $30
Vitabath Fresh Citrus Twist Exfoliating Sugar Scrub $18
Starbucks VIA Refreshers Packets in Very Berry Hibiscus $5.95

Favorite of all of the items?  The Lilac candle.  Our local Bath & Body Works used to carry Henri Bendel and I LOVED it.  I’m still kicking myself for not buying this one perfume of his that was on discount when they were getting rid of the collection that I thought was OK when I first tried it but LOVED once it mellowed on the skin.  Something like Vanilla Rum or something?  Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed his scents and I’m really excited to try the candle and I love lilac.  So this is a huge win for me, I will be lighting that sucker ASAP.

Least favorite of all of the items?  The sunglasses.  I typically use prescription sunglasses anyway (well when mine aren’t broken that is) but even when I don’t I just haven’t ever got into the aviator thing.  Beyond that, when I first tried on these sunglasses to see how they’d look, all I could focus on was the center piece, which to me looked like a penis.  I know, most aren’t going to see it but once I saw it I couldn’t UNSEE it and now I keep seeing a penis on my forehead so I doubt I’ll ever wear these.  I saw other styles that people got out there and I’m jealous.

Overall though I’m OK with this box.  I’ll use the truffle thing this summer when reading my kindle outside instead of my ghetto ziplock bag that I typically use.  I’m definitely going to use the water bottle to fill up for work this summer so I have cold water to drink after a photo session in the hot sun.  We’ll see if it really DOES keep things cold for 24 hours (although boo to the no dishwasher!).  Sugar scrubs can always be used or gifted and I’ve already got a box of the VIA’s so I’ll definitely use them – even if they give me the jitters.  The sarong may not get used but I’ll toss it in with my suits with the INTENTION to use it this summer.  Ha.  I don’t think I’d go for another box (unless it’s a pumpkin themed one, which means I may fall into an autumn themed trap!) but I don’t hate this one like I did the winter box.

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Birchbox’s May Epic Fail

Birchbox was my first subscription box and I guess that’s why I still soldier on with it.  Or it’s the fact I accidentally signed up for a yearly sub and can’t get out of it no matter how much I want to now.  I, of course, realized this mistake 2 days after my card was charged for another year of Birchbox.  Crap.  The samples have been ho-hum to WTF and I don’t think I’ve used most of it in months.  Trust me, come November I’m done with this puppy.

I can deal with the random-as-hell samples but missing not one but TWO samples?  Oh hell no.  I’m pissed.  Really stupidly pissed.  I’ve sent off an email to customer service but I’m sure there’ll be the blame game heading my way.  In the meantime I’ll vent on my blog.

card from Birchbox with everything that was supposed to be included.

This is the description card that you get with each Birchbox.  I save this until last because I want to have the fun of going through the box first.

Product samples I did receive from Birchbox

This is what I pulled out of the box when opening my box.  I thought it was a joke and thought SURELY there would be something in the yellow puff box included in the box.

empty box in birchbox

No such luck. It was a big fat empty box.  Womp-womp.

So what am I missing?  I am missing a “Coola Classic Face SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face” and a “Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner.”  Am I crying buckets?  No.  However I’m still pissed.  I’ll update when/if I get a response from Birchbox.

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Subscription Box: Julibox (February)

February Julibox

Oh, have you heard about my most favorite monthly subscription box yet?????  If not, hold onto your hats because it’s a doozie!

A few months ago I stumbled onto this one when it was in its second month.  I honestly wasn’t sure if it was going to last but so far I’ve loved every month, even if some aren’t my cuppa so to speak.  So, what is this thing of goodness of which I speak?  Julibox is a monthly subscription box with two different cocktails and most of the fixings each month.  You read that right, COCKTAILS TO YOUR DOOR!  If you are like me, I like my cocktails but I’m so woefully ignorant of any cocktail to order when at an open bar that isn’t vodka and cranberry juice.  Which is fine but sometimes you want to change it up a bit.  The Julibox has been amazing for that and the bonus is that I am trying drinks I’d never tried before.  So far my biggest surprise hits have been the Magi Sour and the Polish Mule.  This month I think is going to be my favorite yet as it includes bubbly!!!!  Have I mentioned what a sucker I am for bubbly??  I can’t wait to get my hands on some strawberries and I think that will be my drink the night of my birthday!  I’m going to try the French 75 before that though, I can’t wait that long to dig in.

The details:

What:  Julibox
When:  Monthly (mid month)
Cost:  $40/month
Includes:  Alcohol and some fixings for 2 drinks of each of the 2 cocktails of the month.  Generally includes everything but juice, fresh ingredients and items on hand (i.e. sugar).
The Good:  COCKTAILS!!!!!!!
The Not-So-Good:  Cost is a bit high and it’s not a value box like some of the others but IMHO it’s worth it to try new drinks. You also have to be on site to sign.
Referral Bonus:  None.  Probably has something to do with the alcohol thing.

 

 

 

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12 Best Reads of 2012

Quite a few of my friends have asked me for a “best of” list of books that I read in 2012 and I am happy to oblige!  This year I finally met my 2+ year goal of reading 150 books in a year, I actually surpassed it by quite a few even!  I know many read more than that but I’m quite thrilled with finally meeting a goal!  Ha!

Now for the books – my reading preferences are all over the board so I apologize in advance for it.  I won’t review the plots as some see any info as spoilers, if you want to know what the book is about you can read the synopsis from the link!

The Secret Keeper  by Kate Morton
I had read The House at Riverton series (why are they called a series anyway?) and while I liked them, they weren’t ones that I would rush out to tell the world about.  However, I didn’t dislike them so I picked up the latest novel by Kate Morton and became enraptured.  Some was predictable, some was not and all of it was enjoyable.  This book took me a little over a day to read and I didn’t want to put it down!  I look forward to more from this author.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves
This book was recommended to me by a few different people and I had plopped it on my “want to read” list.  When looking for a new book to read I decided I liked the cover and the premise and went with it (because I’m sometimes shallow like that).  I really wasn’t expecting to like it much to be honest, but I hoped to be entertained.  This ended up being one of the biggest surprise hits for me this year!   If you like survival-esque stories, I highly recommend this book!

Four Against the Wilderness by Elmo Wortman
Continuing with the survival theme… When I was a kid, I fell in love with this made-for-tv movie called “Anything to Survive” and in later years, I would often think of the movie.  I decided that I wanted to see it again this year and in my quest to find the movie I found out that it was based on a true story and a book that the father wrote of their tale.  While ordering the movie, I also ordered the book.  I loved reading the true story behind the movie that captured my attention for so many years and it wasn’t remotely a let down at all, in fact, like in most things, the book was better than the movie.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
It seems that everyone has recommended this book to me since its release but I kept putting it off.  It just didn’t “grab” me and say read me.  However, I eventually got to it as the to-read pile waned and I am so glad that I did!  This is a beautifully written novel and I couldn’t put it down.  Lisa has since released two novels but IMHO neither compare to the first.

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
I read this book just a a mere few weeks before the tragedy at Newton and it made this book ever more haunting and will be one of the books that stick with me for a long time.   It’s another book that I couldn’t put down.

Seduction and Snacks by Tara Sivec
Oh god, this book had me laughing almost from the first line.  I was sending out some of the quotes from it to my friends and we were all laughing about it.  This may be one of the funniest books I’ve read for females and I’d equate it to a softer, funnier version of something Tucker Max would write.  Definitely read this if you are in the mood for something light and funny… and you aren’t a prude.

The Long Walk by Stephen King
Yet another old book that had been recommended to me a few times that I finally gave in to.  I’ve not met many King books I didn’t like so in preparation for my upcoming trip to Maine I decided to read this one.  It is haunting, beautiful and awful at the same time.  I see this as a more well written version of The Hunger Games.

The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March
I got this book from Amazon Vine, not expecting it to be much but the cover was pretty (I’ve mentioned I can be shallow right?).  I imagined it to be a great beach/summer read and being set in Maine was a huge bonus.  It was NOT a light and fluffy read, rather it was the opposite but I still loved it just the same.   Be prepared to have some tissues nearby but for smiles as well.  Your emotions will be all over for this one!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
This is another tear jerker and I adored it.  I’m not spoiling anything but that it’s a heart-wrenching book that you will hate to love but you’ll recommend it all the same.

The Rest of Forever by M. Elaine Moore
This book was recommended on an Outer Banks Forum that I read (I adore the Outer Banks) and I was hesitant at first given that it does have a bit more religion than I like in my books.  I went ahead and kept with it though since I adore the Outer Banks and am glad I did.  Pick this one up if you love the Outer Banks or just modern romances.

The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
This may go down as my favorite beachy read of the year, along with the rest of the books in the series.  The setting is magical and I love how the sea turtles are intertwined with the novel.  If you are looking for a series of beach books to get lost in, these are where you want to go.  SO good.

The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain
I adore Diane Chamberlain and her latest release did not disappoint, in fact it may be one of my favorites of hers to date.  I adored the relationship between the father and daughter in this novel and it brought back memories of me and my Dad growing up.  Make sure you have time reserved for this book, you won’t want to put it down.

What were YOUR favorite reads of 2012?

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Downton Abbey

Last Spring my husband wasn’t feeling well and crashed out on the couch for about three days, only waking to eat and crash out again.  During that time I stuck to my office, trying to remain as quiet as possible as to not disturb him.  I’m not one for much television, I prefer to lose myself in a novel but I was bored with reading and wanted something to watch.  When I asked some friends what I should watch, everyone kept telling me over and over I need to watch Downton Abbey.  One said that I would like it purely based on the fact there is a Titanic tie-in and more suggested it knowing my love of the Edwardian Era (Anne of Green Gables, Road to Avonlea and Titanic are just a few of my favorite Edwardian era shows/movies).  I decided to give it a whirl since it was on Netflix.  In about 3 minutes I was completely hooked and by the end of that weekend I had watched all of Season One and all of Season Two up to the current episode on in the US (which happened to be the final Christmas Episode).  Once I saw the Christmas Episode I was deeply saddened to find out that a new season wouldn’t be out for another YEAR here in the US!  Gah!!!!!!  I immediately ordered the Blu Rays and watched them again upon arrival.  Happy sighs abound.  Now it’s been almost a full year and I’m still just as hooked and a bit sad that I didn’t discover this gem sooner!  Season Three just ended in the UK and I must confess that I’m all caught up.  I know myself too well to have withheld watching it and avoided spoilers for that long!!!  Let me warn you, you will need your tissues.  It’s a heckuva ride!!  I’m eagerly awaiting the Christmas Special, which I love that it’s aired on Christmas Day.  I wish we had television events like that here in the US!

Do you watch Downton??  If so, who is your favorite couple?  Who is your favorite “upstairs” and “downstairs” person?  What storyline has been your favorite to watch unfold?

Personally, I adore Matthew and Mary.  I know a lot of people don’t like Mary, heck I didn’t myself originally but she did grow on me.  Watching their story be told has been so wonderful and I hope that Dan Stevens resigns for Season 4 so I can continue to watch their story unfold.  *shakes fist at Dan*  By far my favorite “upstairs” person is Sybil.  She’s amazing and the kind of person I think everyone wishes they could be.  I think most people adore her and the men want to date her!  LOL!  Downstairs I adore Mrs. Hughes.  She is quite lovely and has such a generous soul.  She’s been fun to watch grow over the seasons.  Interestingly though, I think I’ve really enjoyed seeing Thomas grow through the seasons, I keep hoping that he won’t be ALL bad because not EVERYONE is all good or bad, right?

I have to confess though, what I really watch Downton Abbey for is the clothing.  *swoon*

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Pop Up Pantry Gone Wrong

So in September one of the included goodies in the Pop Sugar Must Have Box was a code for a free meal from Pop Up Pantry.  It intrigued me because sometimes I just don’t want to cook, I think pretty much anyone can relate to that.  There are days that you just can’t be bothered but still want something decent without coming from a box or going out of the house.  Ta-da, this would be fantastic!  I’m willing to pay for it and while the free deal got me into it, I was hoping it’d  be a hit so I could look forward to having at least one night off a month, maybe more?

Ha.

Ha.

BHWAHAHA HAAHAAA!

Seriously.  Not kidding.  It was bad.

Due to the overwhelming response, there wasn’t much of a selection and some of it just wasn’t up my alley.  I’m not the most adventurous eater so lots of these weren’t my idea of a good meal but the Heirloom Vegetable Pot Pie looked pretty interesting.  Confession: I mostly chose it because it had a pumpkin roll as the desert (or “roulade” as they called it).  I selected a date for delivery about a week or so off and promptly forgot about it until this box showed up at my house with lots of warnings about dry ice. I opened the box and was mystified with how the dry ice bag got a HUGE hole ripped in the bag and the dry ice floating around freely in the box.  Greaaaat.  I then froze everything except the pumpkin roll because I wanted that shit.  Now.

The rest of it would wait a few weeks until I was home to make it because I went to Canada for a week.

pop up pantry's pot pie

What I started the dinner with.

I got out all of the stuff and started the dinner per the instructions they emailed to me because they forgot to put them in the box.  Which is probably good since the dry ice was floating around in the box and I kept having “I’m melting!” visions in my head as I was grabbing things out anyways.

broken pastry puffs

I start out preheating the oven and find that the puffed pastry shells are mostly broken. Grrr-eat.  I figure they’ll still taste the same but it made me really sad to see how beat up they were.

boiling filling in a bag

Then I get out the pot pie filling and start to wonder if things are not going to end up so great for me.  The pictured pot pie had a dark base to it, almost beef looking.  This looked pretty yellow/white and I was worried this meant there was going to be an onion fest waiting for me… and I’m allergic to onions.  You boil the bag of frozen filling for about 30 minutes which SOUNDS fairly easy but really is kind of a pain.  I can’t tell you how many times I got burned by water popping from the boil as I used the tongs to turn and mush the stuff around.  Gah.

bean salad melting

While the filling is boiling the cold bean salad is defrosting in a bowl of water NOT boiling.  This was much easier to handle.  And while the instructions didn’t mention it, I felt it was probably a good idea to take the paper labels off in case they created a mess.

puffed pastry mess

After about a half hour my meal was about to be ready and I was still holding out hope to be wowed.  Then I saw this and it made me sad.  The small broken bits didn’t cook like the bigger bits.  I think had the pastry been whole it would have been awesome but not whole = not as awesome.  Then I pulled out the filling, burning myself again in the process (cutting a boiling hot bag isn’t as easy as it sounds) and also dumped the bean salad… onto hubs plate because that shit looked nasty.  I was sad to see how much onions were in the pot pie filling so hubs got the majority of that as well and I kept a small bit for myself and topped it all off with the chunk o puffs.

Heirloom Vegetable Pot Pie Pop Up Pantry Review

This is what my finished pot pie looked like, minus that bean salad scary stuff.  The pastry was good, the rest was… meh.  VERY oniony and I believe the base was some onion type gravy stuff.  Which meant I couldn’t eat much of it so I guess I’m glad it wasn’t that good.  To me, it was kind of bland and just didn’t have a lot of flavor.  The veggies were OK but… I was NOT wowed.  I was expecting the hubs to be wowed, especially since our palates are totally different, but he didn’t like it either.  At the end of the meal he said, “not again.  Ever.”  He also said the bean salad was awful.  He wouldn’t eat it and he’ll pretty  much eat anything.  He ate the pot pie but definitely was not a fan.

So here’s the final thoughts:

Pop Up Pantry:  Not worth the money you would spend per month for meals like the one I got.  Has potential but I’m not enough of a foodie to enjoy.

Heirloom Pot Pie:  Bland, broken and blah.

Bean Salad:  Ick.

Pumpkin Cranberry Roulade:  YUM.  This I would order again on its own.  THAT was good.

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Pop Sugar Must Have Box: October

It’s another busy month for me, so I fail at blogging epically.  Whoops!  I’ve been what seems like around the world this month with a wedding, lots of portrait sessions and a trip to Canada and back.  Whew!  October isn’t done yet and I hear we’re ending it with a snowstorm.  Cue the whining from all!  😉

I have been mad stalking my shipment of this month’s Pop Sugar Must Have Box after the delightful surprise last month.  I was kind of worried because I heard some complainers saying this one stunk compared to last months but I was very happy with mine when I opened it (I avoided spoilers because I’m weird like that).  I actually may have wooped a little and done a jig.  While I realize that the Pop Sugar Must Have Box is a bit more than most boxes at $40 or so a month (use REFER5 for $5 off!) I feel OK with it since I LIKE everything in it for two months in a row.  Lately with Birchbox, I’ve been lucky to like even one thing in it.  I keep meaning to pull the plug but I wanted to find something to fill its place.  I’ve also signed up for Ipsy and so far I love it more than Birchbox so I may finally be kicking that habit. I may have added a few other boxes in my quest like the Julibox (COCKTAILS!!), Glossybox and Julep Maven.  I’ll be adding those to the reviews now that I have time to actually breathe with my job (well, when I get them).  I also plan to start throwing in more book reviews!  🙂  Yes, this blog is a mixed bag, just like me.  Ha!

Back to the Must Have box… while it doesn’t have the high value that last month’s had, it’s still awesome and I loved it a lot.

Pop Sugar Must Have Box October

The October box included the following products for a total value of $121.44 (listed in order of excitement)

J.K. Rowling – The Casual Vacancy Hardback Book $35
OPI Pink of Hearts 2012  $14.95
Red Flower Japanese Peony Petal Topped Candle $38
Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy 3 oz Shampoo & Conditioner $3
Dylan’s Candy Bar Gummy Bears $4
Pirates Booty Aged White Cheddar $1.50
Crescent Moon ExerSocks $24.99

I’m a huge reader and although I’ve not read Harry Potter (yes I know), I am excited somewhat to read this new book by JK Rowling.  Since it’s free, I’m definitely giving it a whirl.  I’m OPI-obsessed so the Pink of Hearts is fantastic and straight up my alley, and since I didn’t have to donate to the Komen fund (I support cancer charities, just not Komen) I’m happy to be given it.  The candle smells AMAZING but I definitely wouldn’t buy it at near $40 for that small of a candle!  The shampoo & conditioner is perfect for me since I have long and thick hair – it’s NEVER fun to get the tiny samples b/c I need more than that to wash my hair!  The gummy bears look divine shall  be munching on those during trick or treat!) and the Pirates Booty does too.  The socks are… socks.  I’ll wear them but probably not buy them again.  Unless they totally wow me breathless.  I’ll come back and update with reviews of each items as I use them 🙂

 

 

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Pop Sugar: September Box

Ok, I have a new obsession with the sample boxes that come monthly.  A couple years ago I joined one that was all Etsy stuff but it didn’t last too long and I quickly found that while there would sometimes be an item or two I liked, I was usually disappointed.  Then last year my friend Mary (who is the guru of all things cool, a requirement in a friend for woeful ones like me that aren’t too cool or hip) blogged about Birchbox and I decided to give it a whirl and got quickly addicted.  It’s kind of like a lottery and since I was a kid, I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with luck-of-the-draw kind of things.  It’s a good thing that I don’t go to casinos!  😉  However, lately Birchbox has been lackluster (and the things I fall in love with seem to get discontinued and I’ve been kicking around kicking the habit but I wanted to find a replacement before I kicked the habit.  So this month I signed up for Julep Maven and Pop Sugar.  I got my Julep Maven box this month and I liked it but I just received my Pop Sugar box and I MUST TELL ALL OF THE PEOPLE!!!  This box is nothing short of awesome.  Lookie!

Pop Sugar Must Have Box: September

The September box included the following products for a total value of $274.47 (!)

Brokedown Scarf in Silver plus 50% code online $84 for full priced scarf, $42 in savings with the code
The Perks of Being a Wallflower book plus 2 free tickets to see the movie $14 for book, $24 for tickets
Rifle Paper Co.’s Lined Notepad $8
Benefit Cabana Glama $36
Becky’s Blissful Bakery Caramels $10.49
Pop-Up Pantry Dinners Cookie plus code for 1 free meal $17
Yes to Cucumbers Hypoallergenic Towelettes $2.99
Kitsch Hair Ties $9.99
$25 Gift Certificate to Tracie Martyn Skin Care Line $25
Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips $1
Must Have Pouch (a black coin purse)

That’s a LOT of stuff and not very much that I am blah about, which is usually 50% of my Birchbox stuff.  I actually have a few boxes of Birchbox stuff full of crap I’ll never use.  Out of this box I don’t think I’ll use the Must Have Pouch (I have plenty of others of this style that are cuter), the Pop Up Pantry coupon or the Tracie Martyn Skin Care coupon.  Other than that?  Totally using all of this!!!!  WIN!!!!  Below is some of my favorites in this box.

Brokedown Scarf in Silver

This is an awful picture but I’m in the midst of editing hell so I’m not breaking out the big guns for pics today.  iPhone 5 it is!  This scarf is so, so soft.  I didn’t have a clue that this was a fancy schwancy scarf though, just thought it was another one.  Here’s why it’s awesome.  I always LOVE scarves on other people.  I think they look so chic and adorable.  However, I just have yet to embrace this trend for myself and I don’t know why.  I’ve yet to buy a scarf and give it a whirl, I’m afraid I’ll look like I’m a mess… which I do 90% of the time.  So this scarf in the box means I don’t have to commit to purchasing one but can start to try this trend out (yes, I realize I’m only about 4 years or so behind the trend!) and give it a whirl!  Here’s hoping I don’t strangle myself.

Benefit Cabana Glama

I love makeup!  This is why I joined with Birchbox in the first place but a lot of the stuff I get with them is just… WEIRD!  Not what is up my alley and not stuff I can usually find again.  I seem to constantly get fragrance and skin stuff yet my profile says different.  Anywho, this is so my style and I did a happy dance when I realized it wasn’t NOTECARDS but was in fact an awesome box in a box!  WOO!

The last thing that rocked my socks was the hair ties.  I’d upload a picture but for some reason the darn word press thing keeps tilting the image even though it isn’t tilted sideways.  Hrumph.  Anyways, they are pretty and make ponytails less fugly.  WINNING!  Especially since I basically live with my hair tied back in some fashion or another.

I am still pretty stoked about almost ALL of this though.  The notepad came just at the perfect time, I was running out of my beloved grocery list pads and this will do nicely for that (for some reason I MUST hand write my list, cannot print one out, who knows why!).  The chips, cookie and caramels all look quite tasty and I can’t wait to try the towelettes.  YAY!  Here’s hoping this isn’t a one off of YAY and then the rest is going to super suck!

 Edit:  I just decided to try the Pop Up Pantry thing.  I found out the first meal TOTAL is free, for whatever reason I thought they just covered for one person so it’s a $34 deal and the shipping is free.  I got the pot pie dinner and it comes with a salad AND dessert for TWO people!  So… we shall see.

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Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

My favorite meals are pretty much easy meals that don’t require a lot of fuss and if they cook themselves in the crock, all the more better.  Enter Pinterest.  Many recipes of good, far more of bad and a few of spam (not the canned kind).  I saw this recipe for Baked Potato Soup that looked too stupid easy to be good.  Of course this means that I have to try it and see if it’s decent or gag worthy.  I’ve had a run of fails for recipes lately on Pinterest, so much that I’m about to make a Recipe Fail board to complement my Recipe Successes but this one turned out OK with some modifications I did after reading the comments to see if I should even bother teasing myself with the smell all day before the epic disappointment of a bad meal (I’m looking at you Angel Chicken).

Crock Pot Baked Potato Soup

(Pardon the hipster Instagram shot, I didn’t think it’d be that good so only took a quick shot with the iPhone)

This is what I did:

1 bag of hash browns, frozen (I got Ore Ida shredded)
45 oz of chicken stock
1 can cream of chicken
8 oz Velveeta
dash garlic powder
dash kicked up salt concoction
couple dashes of pepper

1.  Toss the hash browns, chicken stock, cream of chicken and seasonings into a crock pot.  Turn crock on low and stir when the mood strikes you.
2.  Put in Velveeta supposedly an hour before serving.  I think I was around two hours or so because hubs was late from work. Best laid plans…
3.  Before eating, puree with immersion blender.
4.  Garnish and eat.

What I changed from original recipe and why:

•  After reading the reviews a lot of people said it was bland so I opted for the stock instead of the broth because I think that would bring a bit more flavor in.  I think it did.  I would keep this as is in the future.
•  I used the Velveeta because cheddar cream fakery beats bland creamy stuff every day.  I like cheese flavor and figured velveeta would do the cream PLUS cheese.  I had a long obsession with this cheesy baked potato soup we had when I worked at Friendly’s and I was hoping for a result close to that.  With only 8 oz it wasn’t but with the added cheddar garnish it was darn close.
•  Added garlic for the bland issues and essentially everything I make needs garlic according to the hubs.
•  I did not care for the looks and lumps of my first small bowl of the soup.  Too much flavor at once so I got out my immersion blender and pureed the soup until there were no lumps left and it made a WORLD of difference with the flavor.  You couldn’t pick out the individual flavors anymore and it was really spot on to the Baked Potato soups I’ve had in restaurants.

What I’d do in the future:

•  More Velveeta to give it more cheese flavor.  Maybe.  I liked where it was but I added cheese to it.  May leave how it is and just add shredded cheese. Hubs liked as is so there is that.  We’ll see how it is tomorrow for lunch for final decision because w all know stuff like this always tastes better the next day.  Unless it’s just bad from the get go.
•  Add bacon in from the beginning instead of a garnish, even just a bit I think would have given a good kick to the flavor.
•  Possibly sub out the cream of chicken for a different cream of soup.  Potato maybe?  Not sure but thankfully after puree-ing you couldn’t taste it anymore but was a bit noticeable without pureed goodness.
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