Thursday, November 29, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with Goodies Co. November

My first Goodies Co. box by Walmart Labs arrived. This is a box that I signed up for while it was in Beta mode. The wait was long, I think I signed up in late September so it took a while to go through the process. I saw a news release that says Goodies Co. has now gone live and is taking subscribers. To sign up, I took a little quiz to find out what kind of a food person I was. I am an Explorer, and got a special badge on my profile.

My first impression?  It's a big box, about the same size as Cravebox. My second impression? I was shorted the delicious looking candy bar...Waah! I didn't get one!! There's a picture of it on the website! But then, I realized...I was an Explorer, so I suppose my box is different than the one shown because of my profile. I wasn't shorted a product, I was given a different one. And other products were different flavors. So in some respects I was disappointed, but in others, I realized that I have a bit more of an adventurous side and like to try something new. So, I am not sure what to think because I am truly bummed about a couple of things, and will mention why in the product review. My third impression? For being one of the first subscribers I received a really sturdy, simple farmer's market bag with the Goodies Co. logo on it. I use these bags constantly, so I appreciated the nice touch.

This month's box was focused on entertaining made simple, with products that are easy.

Oogie's Gourmet Popcorn:
Yay! I got the white cheddar flavor! This product also comes in others, like chili con queso and movie theater butter. All natural with no cholesterol, trans-fat or gluten, is Non GMO corn and whole grain. There is nothing not to love about this snack! My husband is a popcorn whisperer. He can make a batch of fresh popcorn popped on the stove in hot sauce, then add the perfect amount of salt to make it addictive, and no butter added, so no popcorn will ever be as good as that. But for a pre-package, pre-popped treat, this is a great substitute.

The Lazy Baker All Natural Cookie Mix:
I received the Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread flavor. I think this sounds delicious! At first I was really jealous about not getting the candy bar everyone else seemed to get, but I am over it. The story behind this product is that as a little girl, the creator loved to bake with her grandma, but didn't like to do all the prep involved, so her grandma would get all the ingredients ready and she would say "Where's my Lazy Baker?" The little girl, Gina, comes running and just dumps all the ingredients in. These cookies will be perfect to make with Peanut...she loves to be in the kitchen with me but sometimes it is a real challenge because she's a very independent "I can do it myself" kind of girl. I can't wait to make these with her! All you have to add is softened butter. That's it. Put them in a muffin tin and you are done!

Flourless Bliss Pumpkin Souffle Mix:
All natural and gluten-free, this easy kit has everything you need to make a souffle, except an egg, half and half and butter. This wouldn't be a challenge for me since I usually have those three things on hand almost always, but just to be clear, it does not have everything you need. Other people got a chocolate souffle kit, which I would have preferred...but I need to keep in mind I am an Explorer, right?

Lotus Bakeries Smooth Biscoff Spread:
You know those little cookies you get on a flight instead of pretzels or peanuts? This is those...all ground up into a spread that tastes a little like caramel. It's not good for you at all, made of flour, sugar, oil, more sugar, oil and more sugar. But, for a decadent little treat, the suggestion of fruit slices, like apples, is slightly redeeming and a hit with the kiddos.

Bobbysue's Nuts:
I got the original flavor, a sweet and cinnamon taste with a nut mix of almonds, cashews and pecans. I really liked them, especially cashews. Not too full of sugar, but has enough and you can taste the cinnamon without it being overpowering. And what's even better, Bobbysue's has a mission, where a portion of every dollar goes toward building a shelter for homeless animals.

Bigelow Tea:
I received Eggnogg'n, a black and green tea blend made to taste like creamy eggnog. Ingredients besides the black and green tea include natural eggnog flavor and cinnamon. It's not bad. I added some half and half and was a nice afternoon treat on the wintry day!

American Vintage Wine Biscuits:
These are round melba-toast like little biscuits made with real wine. My package was white wine, shallot and cayenne flavor. They didn't come with a spread or a cheese, so not sure what to eat these with. I am going to try some Laughing Cow and see how that tastes. I will update.

Verdict: Not a bad box for the buck. I enjoyed almost all the products and so did my kids. Looking forward to the next one!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with Beauty Box 5 November

Yay! Beauty Box 5 day! This is my second box with this company. As I wrote in a previous blog, I wasn't all that interested in what I received in my first shipment. The items just didn't pertain to my lifestyle. So, I am super excited to see if the game has changed or if we are still lackluster.

This box is now in direct competition with Birchbox (also affectionately known by its long time subscribers as BB) for me, since my invitation and spot to subscribe came, and I will need to pick one or the other, for what my budget allows.

So, game on. Excite me, entice me and be useful to me, the winner gets my loyalty.

On to the contents:

Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion:
I am very familiar with this product. I have used the gentle facial cleanser in the past, and I have many friends who swear by this product. I am not opposed to using it again, but am kind of a Clinique Facial Wash junkie right now.  What I love about Cetaphil is that is in the most widely lauded sensitive skin care product that I know. The lotion is no exception and I don't hesitate to use it on my 4 year old daughter who has been cursed with eczema. This is nice to use on the other parts of her skin that aren't affected by eczema, because I know it is gentle and fragrance free.

Envie De Nuef Eye Mask:
This little packet contains one platinum lineless eye mask. The description on the packet says it is a comprehensive eye treatment providing option nutrition and hydration. Containing colloidal platinum, peptides and squalane (whatever that is), it lifts wrinkles and fine lines, reduce puffiness and bags and lightens dark circles. I am very excited to try this, because my 40 year old face needs some lifting and reducing. I am going to try this after I wash and tone my face. It doesn't say the best time to do it, but bedtime works for me, as that is when I have more time to myself. A full size purchase of these rings in at a pricey $30 for 10, to be used once or twice a week.

Global Goddess Upgrade Complexion Face Primer:
I got two packets of this. You can use it alone or before makeup. I have freckles, wrinkles and some of those brown spots you get during pregnancy and I don't use a base foundation, so it would have to be a stand alone product that doesn't turn my face that white pasty look you can sometimes get with primer, but even out all those mild blemishes. It contains pearlescent pigments to brighten and create a glow. Containing vitamins A and E and licorice extract, it is supposed to nourish the skin giving it a silky finish, while antioxidants protect.

Swagger Eye Shadow:
I was the lucky recipient of an eyeshadow pot in what I can only guess is "Dirty Martini." The pot itself is not labeled but it is kind of brownish-bronze and very metallic looking. It goes on very dark so I would only use it on my lower lid line. I will use it though, mostly for nights out. It wouldn't be a day to day going to the office look for a conservative company.

Model Co Ultra Shine Lip Gloss:
This is a full size product in the color "Strip Tease."  I really like this color, it's soft, light and very natural, giving my lips the natural healthy color of just having well, you a work out, as you can see. Please ignore my wrinkles. The gloss is smooth, went on easily and isn't sticky. It's also got a sweet little mirror on the side of the tube, which makes applying a fresh coast a breeze, and versatile in the little tiny going out on the town clutch with just the necessities.

Verdict: I was very excited to try all these products actually, especially the eye mask, so this was a good month for me. I wouldn't purchase any of these products, with the exception of the cetaphil without sampling first, so the box was a success.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with some thankfulness

I am a day late and a dollar short on the whole "What am I thankful for?" blog. I really wanted to have something insightful and witty to publish on Thanksgiving but I just couldn't find it in me. Not that I'm not thankful, because I am. But because I just lost track of it this year, and because I try to say a little prayer of thanks every day, to remind me how blessed I am that I have two healthy children, family near me, a job, a warm home and most of all, that I was raised to be Christian and have a foundation I believe in.

I have been preparing myself mentally for a few weeks for major changes in my life. I have been impatiently waiting for my stitched up toes to heal and it hurts. I have been battling fatigue with kids who have been coughing. I've just plain had a lot on my mind. But I wasn't inspired to talk about thanks until today.

We did a little Christmas shopping.

I knew it was going to be tough. There were odds and ends that had to be taken care of first, like a new winter coat for Monkey as his broke, we needed a Christmas dress for Peanut, and I had a return from my birthday. But lastly, we had done little to no gift shopping. I am running out of time and help to get it all done so I forced myself to go to the, husband, sore foot and all. Ugh.

I am so thankful for my husband today. I forget all to easily how much he really does for us and how much he loves us when I let little pet peeves distract me. It's been a tough couple weeks. I really knew deep down this wouldn't go well, but he took it and ran. We got the coat done, I grabbed a couple Mrs. Field's cookies for the kids, and he took them to the mall playland so that I could hobble myself down the halls alone and as slowly as I needed to. FOR OVER 2 HOURS. He didn't complain once. He didn't act impatient or bored. I even got myself a latte. Then, when I had to make one more stop, he went and sat on a couch with the kids and looked at fish swimming in a small tank. This may not seem like much. But right now, this day, it meant a lot.

I am thankful. I don't show it often enough. I have a husband who is a stand-up guy, a loyal best friend and a real dad. I often wondered why God was taking so long in helping me find a husband. I really believed I was just not meant for a life in marriage. But, God did have a plan, he had a lot of lessons for me to learn (and I do continue to learn) before I could really appreciate the kind of man he was sending my way.

I need to renew my spirit and renew my faith in my marriage today. I am thankful.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with Birchbox November

The long awaited Birchbox has arrived! I am anxious to see what's inside, since reviews of Birchbox as a whole have been a mixed bag. They do things a bit differently than other sub boxes in that they have you fill out a beauty profile as to what kind of a makeup person you are, and then I guess they send out some 30 different boxes with different products in them to match your profile.

Price: $10/month and free shipping.

This month's box was about giving. Inside was a special box envelope that you fill with a little gift. There were options printed on the side you could check, Because and P.S. and there were cute sayings on it.

Here are the products I received in my very first box:

SoyJoy Snack Pack:
This is a baked whole soy and fruit bar in Cranberry. Advertised as moist and fruity, the bar is made with whole soy, real fruit, gluten free with 0g trans fats. The bar is ok. I wouldn't say it was all that moist, it seemed dry to me. The flavor was good, but I don't foresee myself going out and buying them voluntarily. 

Archipelago Pomegranate Body Soap:
This was a 1.8 oz sample size bar of a gentle triple-milled soap with white tea, cranberry and chamomile extracts and pomegranate to act as antioxidants. Pomegranate is said to repair cell damage and encourage collagen production. I like the scent, it is not fruity like you'd think, but soft and a bit floral, the white tea and chamomile stand out. Very gentle and rinses off nicely. I am old fashioned and I love to use the exotic bar soaps.

Model Co Fibre LashXtend Mascara:
This is the second Model Co product I received this month, getting the lip gloss in the Beauty Box 5 November box. This is another mascara on the market that creates the illusion of longer eyelashes with the tiny fibers mixed into the mascara. I received Extreme Black. I don't normally wear heavy mascara, but as I've gotten older my eyes need a little pick-me-up. I didn't think I would want to  use this as my everyday mascara, but I actually really like it. It didn't get all clumpy, went on smooth and provided enough length to still look natural for me with one coat. The black gave a nice line to my eyes that made them pop. Bonus? This also had a mirror on the side of the tube, just like the lip gloss. Another regular addition to my purse!

Mox Botanicals Lip Butter:
This little lip butter pot was in pomegranate and fig. Made in Portland, OR, this product contains avocado oil and shea butter. It smells really good, light and fruity, but has no flavor to it. Just natural. You can never have enough lip stuff, especially with the cold weather working its way in.

Lulu Organics Hair Powder:
I have never used a dry hair powder before. You take a dime sized amount and work it through the roots of your hair, then brush it through. This is supposed to lift day old hair and revive it. I got the scent lavender and clary sage. It smells really nice. I don't know if this product would work for me though. I have naturally curly hair, and if you know anything about curls, you can't really comb through that kind of hair. It turns to frizz and you look like a lion. But, for a quick oil absorber, then pop hair into a bun or pony, it would work well.

Verdict: I saw reviews of some of the other boxes that people got and I was happy with most of my products. But I will be honest, I was a little jealous and very disappointed that I didn't receive the Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray, as that seems more of a fit for curly hair than dry powder, I don't know that they actually read the profiles and match you with the products that fit you. So all in all, I will use 3 out of the 5 products. I didn't receive 6 like some. Come on BB, send me some Blandi!!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with Cravebox Knorr "Ultimate Thanksgiving" November

Happy Thanksgiving!  I was the lucky recipient of the Knorr sponsored "Ultimate Thanksgiving" Cravebox. This company is currently going through some changes with how they are doing the boxes, and I am not sure if they are doing subscriptions anymore. I joined and was waitlisted, but then there were special edition boxes that you could sign up to win but still pay for, which I did.  If you are selected, they automatically charge your payment method whatever the rate is for that box, this one was $14. On to the products:

Knorr Homestyle Stock:
The product I received for this was the chicken flavored stock, and it was one of the little cups. I have used this product before and actually have some in my cupboard, and it does taste good. I add it to soups if I don't have a homemade broth in mind.  I have to be honest, though...For this being a box sponsored by Knorr, that is all you got from their little tub of the broth, not even a whole package, which makes no sense to me because you wouldn't have enough to make a whole pot of soup with only one. 

Pillsbury Grands Biscuits:
There was a coupon for one free can of grands biscuits. Most people are familiar with these, so I won't go into detail. I personally like the buttery, flaky ones. You can peel apart the biscuit layer by layer, smothering it with butter. I like 'em!

DelMonte Whole Green Beans:
Canned green beans are canned green beans. I am one of those green bean casserole junkies, the cheesier and onion-ier (is that a word?) the better.

McCormick Turkey Gravy Mix:
I have never used a gravy mix. I am weird. I actually love the process of making gravy and I think I'm good at it. A person should be able to eat gravy as it's own side dish, or like soup. A woman I know has a great hot turkey sandwich recipe...after you take the turkey off the bone and its all pulled, add an packet of turkey gravy mix and a can of chicken broth, stir and voila, a thick juicy turkey sandwich that is already in gravy. So good. We eat it at church potlucks.

Duncan Hines Frosting and Flavor Mix-In:
I have seen these on the shelf at the store for a little while now. I am not opposed to using canned frosting, I use the chocolate kind. But I don't use a lot of artificially colored products. I think these would be fine if you used them, but the packet of strawberry shortcake flavor does contain Red #40 and Blue #2.  I avoid Red #40 as much as possible because I personally think it's just plain bad for you. I wish companies would stop using food coloring all together or use natural coloring. My kids don't care what color something is, they just want it to taste least my kids anyway.

Brookside Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate:
I think these are the star of the box. I absolutely LOVE these. They remind me of one of the chocolates in Brach's Bridge Mix, the one that the inside is a jelly? Do you know which one I mean? I am kind of leaning toward not sharing these or putting them in the snack bowl for Thanksgiving.  Is that wrong?

Verdict: The box is ok. I think Knorr could have sold themselves better, from a marketing standpoint. But those little chocolate bits...5 stars! I was notified that I won a Holiday Spruce Up Cravebox, coming shortly so I am stoked about that...not about cleaning my house.

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Deleting the naughty...with Conscious Box November

My first actual Conscious Box, outside of the Super Magical Mystery Box, has finally arrived.

A monthly subscription to this is $12.00 plus $7.95 shipping for a total cost of $19.95.

The theme of this months box is "Express Appreciation, focusing on giving thanks for everything both big and small, and find way to express your appreciation..." Also, noted by posts on Facebook, it is Conscious Box's one year anniversary and the promise of an extra special box.

I was a little unsure of this one, mostly because the mystery box contained very few items that were of interest to me or my lifestyle. I am a mom of two kids, and a box full of workout energy boost sport drinks and protein shakes doesn't do a thing for me or my lifestyle, so I was disappointed. I was hoping this one would be a lot better. On to the products:

Lush Nuts:
This package was .8 oz of handcrafted, sweetly coated peanuts in Dark Cocoa Chili. With no preservatives or artificial flavors the ingredients were few and simple, peanuts, sugar, dark cocoa, chili and sea salt. I don't typically like chili flavors mixed with sweet, so this will be a taste adventure for me. Pretty tasty! They were crunchy on the outside, like a hard candy shell of cocoa, you could taste real cocoa. Th peanut inside was big, and lightly salted, and the chili spice lingered a little but wasn't painful or overpowering. I was thinking it would be an odd combination, but I get the appeal of mole, the Mexican flavor, now. Hubby, who loves all things crunch and spicy, ate the majority of these and loved them.

Justin's Organic Peanut Butter Cups:
This is the first thing I tried. I love peanut butter cups, so my husband and I were both anxious to try them. The package contained 2 cups. They were pretty good, the chocolate is harder than other name brand pb cups, and had a real cocoa taste. The peanut butter inside was very good too, it wasn't oily and more natural tasting. I buy peanut butter that is JUST peanut butter, with no added sugars, just peanuts so I like the flavor of the real stuff. I enjoyed them. My husband preferred the peanut butter more than the chocolate and the kids, of course, loved them, irregardless of what brand these were.

L'Ecuyer's Gourmet Caveman Rub
I am excited to try this product. Ingredients are ancho chili pepper, sea salt, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, oregano, white pepper and cayenne pepper. There is a recipe on the inside to give an idea for how to use this, but it is for potatoes. Frankly, I am not going to waste this mix on potatoes, and we are planning to rub a nice, fatty chuck eye steak with it and whip up some fresh pico de gallo and guacamole for fajitas of some sort. YUM! I wanted to get this review posted so I will update.
SweetLeaf Sweat Drops Sweetener:
I received the Vanilla Creme flavor. Sweet Drops is a sugar free stevia based sweetener. You add 5 drops to 8 oz of liquid, such as coffee, tea, smoothies, protein shakes or any recipe. I don't know how you would use this in recipes necessarily as a sugar substitute, but I can see it in quick breads and using it instead of vanilla sometimes. I am a purist, and don't sweeten any drinks. I like my ice tea plain and my coffee natural with a touch of cream, so I would never use this. But my husband is going to love it and so would my father-in-law. It's all theirs and I hope they enjoy it.

Simply Organic:
I received a jar of minced onions. I have used these before and they are great in a pinch. I sometimes throw it into a recipe that needs quick cooking. I usually chop up the organic onions I get from our CSA and freeze them raw in gallon size bags and tend to run out before I get fresh ones. It will come in handy for quick stuff like burgers and meatloaf, etc.

I received a package of Organic Snow Peas. I love peas, and have grown them in my garden before with some success, as long as I can keep the rabbits away. My kids love going out to the garden and eating right from the vine, whether it be grape tomatoes, peas, strawberries or whatever I planted that year. This will be fun to do with the kids. Obviously, since it is November and nearly freezing here, we will not be planting til spring, so if I remember to update, I will. :)

Freekeh Grains:
The description on the package is really interesting. "Freekeh is a process which means to rub, in Arabic. Freekeh was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a middle eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze. The crafty villagers rubbed off the chaff and cooked it up."  Loaded with protein and fiber, this low-fat ancient grain is as easy to cook as rice. Use just like any grain - soups, pilafs, salads or just about anything else. I like quinoa, so I think this will be good stuff!

Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix:
A wheat-free, gluten-free pancake mix made from brown rice flour, white rice flour, buttermilk, almond meal and other starches. This is not a complete mix and needs egg, water and oil added to it, but not much so it is an easy enough recipe.

Organic India Tulsi Tea:
I have never heard of this brand and I am excited to try it. I had to look up what Tulsi is, because it is not referred to as tea leaves, so to speak, but it steeped like a tea. The Tulsi leaves are called holy basil in the west, and a principal herb of Ayurveda health. It is referred to as the incomparable one. It is supposed to reduce stress, support the immune system, balance metabolism, aid digestion and uplift mood. The first package is Original Caffeine-Free and the second is Tulsi Green tea, a blend of tulsi and green tea, and is caffeinated. It is ok to add sweetener but is best consumed without milk.
Description: Non-acidic and containing the prebiotic inulin, Teeccino rebalances the negative effects of coffee. Made from organic carob, barley chicory, ramon seeds and natural coffee flavor, this product claims to deliver the same enjoyment of coffee without the caffeine and acidity. The large package I received is Maya Chocolate, a lush dark roast with velvet chocolate and a hint of chili heat. This one you can brew in your coffee pot, just like coffee. The other two packages were French Roast and Hazelnut, and these are in "tee bags", and you steep them in hot water just like tea. I have to say, I could not get into these. I opened one up and the smell alone turned me off. This isn't my thing. But kudos to those who like them, I am sure it is way healthier!

BONUS ITEM! Avalon Organics Lip Balm or Rare Hawaiian Organic White Honey:
I, for some reason, did not receive either one of these bonus items. I don't know what the rules were for the item, but I am disappointed, as I would have like one of these two products more than any item I got in the box this month.

I am going to see if customer service responds, and give this box one more month. I think 3 boxes is a fair shake. I know that some people say you shouldn't complain and that it's a mixed bag with these, but quite honestly, this box costs a little more. While it is only $12, you still pay shipping, and at $7.95, I expect all my items to be in the box if I am paying the same price for shipping as everyone else. These aren't just free samples, I am paying for them, so I don't think it is wrong to expect the same items and such as everyone else. That's all folks!

Update: Customer service got back to me and told me the people who got the bonus items were those who were active on their facebook, liked their page, etc.  I've written about them twice, free publicity on pinterest, etc. Oh well, I'm new. :)

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with Yuzen November Box

I am in love with Yuzen. They truly have a way of making me feel a little bit special and even though I am aware I pay for this service, I feel like it's a gift. Being a graphic designer for the last 16 years, and working in public relations and marketing, I am a victim of my own profession. I fall hard for a great concept, beautiful packaging, intentionally designed pieces and customer service.

Again, the box arrived packaged with a pretty bow, and with the Yuzen paper, lovely gold and burgundy fall colors with a note. All the items were put together in a little brown mesh bag.

I am thrifty, and I will admit, these tissue papers, bags and ribbons are too pretty to throw away, so I carefully place them inside the mesh bag they come with, and I've stored them away to use for little birthday gifts, Christmas gifts and such. They will come in handy next month when I make little gift bags for teachers and our mail lady. I think reusing these little extras follows suit to the eco-friendly, natural philosophy Yuzen stands for.

I am excited about the products in this month's box.

Savane Organic Skincare Purifying Toner in Rooibus:
This product is made from certified natural and organic African botanicals that have been used to protect from harsh climates and anti-aging. It is made from Rooibos extract, ethanol, vanilla planifolia, patchouli oil, frankincense oil, rose geranium oil.  The first spray took me back a little bit, very strong and overwhelming. Once it dried a bit it the scent was very earthy, I could tell there was patchouli. I am not sure if I care for the scent, but I use toner regularly, so I will use it and update after a week how I liked the cosmetic use of it.

Keeki Organic Lip Shimmers:
This lip product is made from pure organic ingredients. Ingredients are beeswax, cocoa butter, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, peppermint oil, vanilla flavor and mica for shimmer. I got the Sophisticated color and I really liked it on me, I looked, for lack of better words, healthy. Like I had just a healthy color on my lips, and it brightened up my face a bit. No more pale nudes on me, this was a nice change of pace. I could feel the peppermint cooling on my lips but there was very little flavor to it.  Nice product!

Shea Radiance Whipped Shea Butter with Kalahari Melon:
Body butters speak for themselves. They are thicker than lotion and cream and last longer. It is very light and not melon, but some sort of fruity, nutty kind of scent. More of a natural shea. I didn't mind it. It lingers of a natural skin, soap scent.

Zents Bath Salts:
The description for these says they soothe everyday muscle strains, stress, promote circulation, remove toxins and keep skin soft. I don't typically use bath salts because I thought they were not good for women, but these are paraben, phthalate, sulfate and dye free, so I am going to give them a try. I have used Bert's Bees sore muscle stuff before, and survived. I would rather use something natural than say, Calgon. My box had 2 packages. The EARTH scent is for strengthening and grounding: sandalwood (love), siberian fir and frankincense. Very candle like. MANDARIN is for warming and invigorating: ginger, mandarin and cardamom. This reminds me of the orange spice herbal tea in scent. This product also comes in lotions, body oils, perfumes, body wash, soaps, shampoos and conditioners and has other lovely scents available: pear, water, fresh, petal, fig, ore, sun and oolong. I will be drawing a bath tonight and will update.

Simple Squares:
Made from organic ingredients: cashews, almonds, honey, coconut, vanilla, sea salt, cinnamon and cloves. This whole food snack contains no wheat, gluten, dairy or soy and is kosher. I got the cinnamon clove flavor. It's a soft square, not hard like those really crunchy granola bars, but raw and chewy. You can see the chunks of nuts, coconut and and taste heavy cinnamon and clove. It was pretty good. My 4 year old said she liked it but she didn't beg for bite after bite. The clove flavor might be too intense for little ones.

So, thank you again, Yuzen.  You delivered another box that I had a ton of fun exploring. I used every last bit of last month's products, and I am pretty sure I will use all of these too.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Deleting the keeping tabs on your skin

Two years ago I decided it was time to go to a dermatologist for a mole check. I had never had one, and I figured I should at least have a baseline and check on some moles that I wasn't quite sure about. I am a sun worshipper, and I know it is not good for me. In recent years I have slathered the sunscreen, trying not to use anything under 15 SPF, then moving up the scale to 30 SPF. I still like to lay in the sun, but I try to be smarter about it, and sometimes still failing. I went to the appointment, she took some measurements and made some notes and sent me home with an all clear and see you in three years.

A few months ago I noticed a mole on the side of my foot that I just couldn't recall when it appeared, so to be on the safe side I made an appointment. Unfortunately I did not walk away unscathed from this one.

She wasn't worried about the one I was worried about. She noticed a black spot on a different mole that is located in between my fourth and pinky toe on my right foot. Uh oh. I instantly began to shake a little, I got a little bit nervous and started to sweat, first pooling in my hands, then slowly dripping. The foot she was going to stick a needle in for lidocaine turned really cold and sweaty and pale. Gross, huh?

She decided to take the mole and do a puncture and send it in for a biopsy. Then, she had to figure out how to do stitches between two toes that don't exactly have flexibility. OUCH!!!!  She was very kind and numbed it up well. I knew it was a tricky spot, a couple stitches had to be redone. I got bandaged up and hobbled out to make the appointment for suture removal. Let me tell you, the recovery process for this area is not fun. On top of that all, my little one accidentally stepped on that foot. OUCH!!!

I am a wreck. I just don't wait for news well, and am very impatient according to my predictive index score. So, it will take a week.  And I wait...just like I did for the mammogram.  I am starting to think I am a glutton for punishment.  But better safe than sorry right?  Be proactive and take care of yourself.

UPDATE: Got a call back today, I'm so glad I didn't have to stress about this over the weekend. They got the results early and it was indeed a mildly atypical mole, but not cancerous.  I now need to be checked yearly since I have the tendency to produce atypical moles. This popped into my head last night while i was trying to sleep: "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with the Love With Food November Box

Exciting day my first Love With Food subscription box. I like to try new foods but what I love about this subscription is that for every box you purchase a meal is donated to the hungry. And since this was the November box, a time of Thanksgiving, Love With Food is donating two meals instead of one. I am fortunate that I have food to eat, and can afford to try out these sub boxes, and I'm glad that in supporting someone else's business, they in turn do something good. It's a food box that is mighty in kindness, low in price!

Price: $10/month plus $2 shipping
There are 4 plans, I signed up for the year, which was $120, free shipping.

The November box was a special Thanksgiving edition curated by Amy Roloff, of the TLC show Little People, Big World. The items in the box are her fall favorites.

Chocolate Chunk Cookie from Skeeter Snacks:
This package came with two cookies, chocolate chunk flavor. Skeeter Snacks are nut-free and 10 grams of fat. I am typically not a fan of pre-packaged cookies, they have a "taste" I just can't get into, and I prefer homemade. So, I took a bite. At first, I was not impressed, but once I started chewing, it kind of dissolved into an almost buttery flavor, and it left a pleasant aftertaste, and a little bit salty.  Not bad.

Fruit.0 in Mango Pear Pineapple:
These are little pouches of absolute goodness. 4.2 oz of pure, organic fruit, and the package guarantees there is nothing else. Kind of a fruit to go snack. No fat, no cholesterol and full of vitamins. 80% RDA of vitamin C as a matter of fact. If you are a mom, do you remember the smell and taste of the Hawaiian Delight baby food in the jar? That's what this reminds me of. It tastes like Hawaiian Delight. I am throwing it in the fridge because I think it would taste better cold. It can be refrigerated after opening for up to 24 hours. The ingredients are organic mango, pear, pineapple juice concentrate and lemon juice. Not bad, I know my kids would LOVE it.

Mini Crunch from Mrs. May's:
My flavor was cranberry almond. These are 100% natural and gluten, cholesterol, dairy and wheat free.The .7 oz portion  seemed kind of small, considering one full size serving is 26 pieces, but the first initial pieces I had were plenty for a quick little snack. I probably couldn't eat 26 pieces in one sitting.  It was a little too nutty for me, and I would have preferred more cranberry, but they were ok.

Inka Corn from Inka Crops:
These are not your average corn nuts. These kernels are huge. I am talking an inch in size. And they are yummy. I wasn't sure what to expect, thinking biting into one would cause me to lose a tooth, but they were fairly crunchy...pillowy sort of. And they had the perfect amount of salt in my opinion. They tasted like Frito's corn chips. My six year old loved them. He wanted to try one and immediately asked for more! The husband tried to hide them, as he is my cupboard squirrel and loves all things crunchy and grainy.

Truffle Piglet from Hagensborg Chocolates:
The highlighted item from Love With Food was this cute little oinker. An original all natural milk chocolate truffle shaped like a pig. And a delicious pig it was. It did not taste like bacon, but was rich, smooth and creamy.

Turkey Bak Kwa Jerky from Little Red Dot Kitchen:
The package of this all natural turkey jerky was BBQ flavored. The description on the package says it is savory sweet, tender and smoky with a little spice.I didn't really get any spice, but it was tender and sweet and like it came off a grill. I wasn't sure on the first taste, but it grew on me. It's different.

Pumpkin Spice Tea, Stash Tea Company:
Decaf! I like to sit and have a cup of hot tea sometimes before bed, especially now that there is snow on the ground, and I was happy to try something other than chamomile. Flavors highlighted on the package were nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, natural pumpkin spice flavor and clove. While it had all these ingredients, the taste was mild and smooth. Sometimes when tea has cinnamon and clove, heavy spices, they overpower the tea and then that's all you taste. Not the case with the pumpkin spice. Very nice.

Aspen Mulling Co. Original Mulling Spices Blend:
This is a single serving size packet of hot cider spices that you add to 8 oz of apple cider or juice, red wine, tea or brandy and can be served hot or cold. I have a special recipe that I throw together for my own cider, (which I will share on this blog over the Christmas holiday) so I have never used a pre-packaged mix. I will update in a few weeks-I will set aside some cider to do a side by side taste test!

So, all in all, it was a nice little box. The only drawback? Wish there were a couple of teas, and at least one more little piggy...

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with Cravebox Cooking Light November

Another subscription box I got interested in is the Cravebox. I went to their website and signed up, but got waitlisted. But, while I waited, I could enter a contest to win one of their specialty boxes, which happened to be sponsored by Cooking Light. And lucky me, I was notified by email that I happened to be one of the recipients!

Not too long ago, I received another email that shared news about how they were going to be changing the way they do things. So, I don't know if I am a member, not sure if they've changed things yet or what, but I have since then been notified of two more boxes I could enter for, so crossing my fingers because those sound fantastic too!

So, on to the Cooking Light box. First impression, the box was huge. And heavy.  This is a good sign. I tried not to focus too much on the spoilers that were coming out, as I wanted to be surprised..a little.

The box itself was stuffed full of what I would call "fall comfort food." On top was a sheet talking about the products, which were all advertisers in Cooking Light magazine. The biggest plus of all? They were all FULL-SIZE. The box was $13. Incredible value considering the contents:

McCormick Perfect Pinch Salt Free Garlic & Herb Seasoning:
There were 2 bottles of this, one for me and one I will share with my sister or mom. The one I received is a salt-free blend of garlic, Italian herbs (oregano rosemary, basil), red pepper onions, orange peel, celery and paprika. It smelled wonderful. I am leaning toward using this on a slow-cooked pork roast. I think it would also be tasty in a homemade vegetable soup.  Definitely thinking comfort food. Bonus - No MSG. And as I mentioned above..full sized bottles.

Nectresse 100% Natural, No Calorie Sweetener by Splenda:
This product is new, made from the extract of Monk fruit combined with other natural sweeteners (erythritol, sugar, monk fruit extract, molasses), nothing artificial. The box contains 40 individual sized packets.I opened up one of the packets and gave it a taste. I will be honest, on its own it is not for me. It has sort of an ultra sweet intense flavor. I do not normally use Splenda or artificial sweeteners, but my husband does in tea, and my dad and mother/father-in-law are diabetic. My husband will probably use it up. I personally try to avoid anything with aspartame, so this natural alternative might be worth looking into down the road.

Tully's French Roast Coffee:
A 12oz size package of ground French Roast. It's label describes it as rich, smoky, spicy. Tomorrow is Friday, and I do believe I will make myself a pot of this new stuff in the morning. I love coffee. I wake up in the morning and quite honestly it is the first thing I think about. The aroma...breathing in the steam off the top of the cup as I bring it to my lips, sipping it ever so slowly, letting it sit in my mouth for a brief moment to cool then tasting the coffee itself, mixed with just a little half and half, going down and warming my stomach.  The first sip is an experience for me...every day. I feel less than human until I get my coffee, oh what a vice to have.

Fruit Crisp from Dole:
This product is like the fruit cups they already make, but with an oatmeal topping provided. My box had a 2-pack of each flavor they make, peach, apple cinnamon and apple pear. You can enjoy these cold or heated up in the microwave. Now, I have purchased many a Dole fruit cup in my day. It was the perfect size and travel companion when my kids were babies and toddlers. Just pop one open and the kids had a healthy snack. So, the idea of a fruit crisp is intriguing to me. I enjoyed mine heated up with just a little bit of half and half added to it. The kids had theirs cold as an after school snack. To really fancy it up, I would heat it, then put a little light whipped cream or frozen vanilla yogurt on top..mmm.

Torani Syrup:
And if you didn't notice above, this is indeed another full size product, a 750mL bottle. I received sugar free Salted Caramel made with Splenda. My husband will love this.  He loves iced coffees and he actually orders his with Splenda, so I am almost certain he will be experimenting this weekend.  I love a good non-fat vanilla latte, so I am willing to try caramel.  I think this would even be good in just a steamed milk for the kids, a nice little Friday or Saturday night bedtime treat.

In addition to the products, there were recipes, a magnet with measurements, coupons and idea sheets wrapped up nicely in the Cravebox blue tissue paper.  I think this was an awesome box to receive in the mail and I love it! I will use all of these products and enjoy them.  Thanks Cravebox for choosing me!

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Deleting the naughty...with a mammogram


I am a woman who is a third generation risk for breast cancer. My grandmother passed away from it and my mother survived it. As readers know, I turned 40 in October. Although I already had a baseline mammogram at 37, it was time for the one you get at 40. It was only appropriate I get it in October, which is well-known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I was nervous the full week before the mammogram, and even more nervous the day of. I babbled incessantly during the whole procedure, topless and cold, and asked for extra pictures just in case.

The tech who did the mammogram was very nice, but she told me a story about a 30-something young gal whose husband found something in her breast and asked her to go to the doctor. Her husband nagged her about it, but she finally went in. Her doctor didn't seem concerned about it, so gave her the all clear.

The husband, however, wasn't in agreement and made a big scene at the Dr.'s office to look into it more. The gal was extremely embarrassed by her husbands behavior and rather than risk another scene, ignored him and went about life. He continued to give her a hard time, she continued to brush him off.

The lump continued to grow, and she finally decided to get a mammogram, in the office where I was standing. The lump was indeed real, and it was indeed cancer. And three years after her husband first noticed something wasn't right, she now lies in the palliative care unit at the hospital in town.

I just stood there and thought, what a lucky woman she was. She had a husband that was so in love with her and worried about her that he made a scene.  That's what went through my head. I know mine would do the same.  So I bucked up and finished the procedure without a complaint, this could save my life.

Please, please, my dear friends and family.  Do your exams. Get your physicals. Pap's are not that bad. Really. Mammograms are not that bad. I know I may eventually get this awful cancer thing. But I am hoping if I am diligent I can at least have a fighting chance.  That's my honest thought.

The week that followed was tense for me, I just can't stand waiting for information. About anything.  So Wednesday afternoon, I went to the mailbox and the letter was there.  That was good right? It took a whole week to get the letter and nobody called me.  That's good. It means there is nothing urgent at least.

I opened the letter and got a paper cut opening it too fast. Shake it off.

We are pleased to inform you the results of your mammogram appear to be normal...

Whew.  All clear, another year.

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