An ex-Birchboxer is now riding the Ipsy train…

20140416_230942Last month, I shared my experience with Birchbox (you can read it here). I noted that since I wasn’t loving Birchbox, I was going to take the advice of a few ex-Birchboxers and try out Ipsy. I received my first bag this week, and I’m in love.

First off, Ipsy isn’t a box, it’s a bag. For the same monthly fee as Birchbox, you get a new makeup bag shipped to you each month full of fabulous products. Sounds good right? It is! Like Birchbox, upon subscribing you fill out a questionnaire which helps Ipsy send you products that fit your style and interests. It asks things about your makeup know-how, style, hair color, eye color, etc. It was fairly easy to complete and moved pretty quick so definitely fill it out after signing up so you’ll be more likely to receive the right products for you.

20140416_231026This month’s theme is “Beauty Rocks” so the makeup bag features a vinyl record player. Inside my bag was a sample of Benefit Lollitint (a cheek/lip tint), Cailyn tinted lip balm, a travel size Urban Decay 24/7 eye pencil, City Color white gold shadow and highlight mousse and Kiss eyelashes. I’m obsessed with three out of the five products. I don’t care so much for false eyelashes (ain’t nobody got time for that) and I’m not sure how I’ll do with the white gold shadow/highlight. I’m willing to try it, but it might not be my thing. As a bonus, if you review your products, you can receive Ipsypoints which can redeemed for various products and if you sign on to your online account and check out your Glam Room, Ipsy has worked out deals with retailers so you can find promo codes to get deals on purchasing full sized products. I see some more UD pencils in my future…

20140416_230934Ipsy is shaping up to be much better than Birchbox. I have a new makeup bag, I get to try products that I’ve had my eye on for a while (hello UD eye pencil and Benefit Lollitint) and it just better fits my style. There’s no tea (thank you!) and the samples are bigger, which I like. Who needs a doll-sized sunscreen or itty-bitty eyeshadow pallet? No thanks.

I’ll definitely be sticking around to see what else Ipsy has up its sleeve. Did I mention the mailer they used to send my bag was awesome? It was this shiny, pink metallic foil bag. Love it!

I really encourage you to check out Ipsy. I think you’ll be glad you did.

I was not compensated for this review. It represents my own experience with Birchbox and Ipsy.

Baking with Buddy: Crockpot Pulled BBQ Sandwiches

20140321_180436Let me just start by saying, I love this recipe. As in I really love it. As in I can’t wait to make it again. As in don’t go to a BBQ joint for dinner because it won’t be as good as this recipe! I think you get the point.

Per usual, I found this recipe via Pinterest. It comes from the “Mom, What’s for Dinner?” blog which is all about a woman who is cooking gluten free since her daughter has celiac disease. I like it because we seem to have a lot in common in that we both like to take recipes and adapt them into a gluten free version. Here’s the recipe:

Recipe adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff
3-4 pound pork shoulder roast
3 Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup liquid smoke
1 (16-20 oz) bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
1) Spray the inside of slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard and liquid smoke in a small bowl.
2) Rub all over the roast, covering all sides.
3) Place lid on slow cooker and bake on low for 8-10 hours (or high 5-6 hours). Shred meat when finished and strain meat. Add bottle of your favorite gluten free BBQ sauce.
4) Serve on  Kinninnick Gluten Free Buns  and enjoy!
20140320_100335I found my pork shoulder at Food Lion, which is rare for me since I’m not a huge fan of their meat. It was a little fatty, so I would probably recommend opting for one that’s a little leaner. I already had all the spices, but I did purchase the Liquid Smoke since I hadn’t heard of that before. It comes in a small bottle, similar in shape to a Tabasco bottle and was fairly inexpensive. I would recommend including it, because I think it made a huge difference. It gives the barbecue that pit-smoked flavor. I’m usually not one for a smokey flavor/smell, but I loved this so that should tell you something.
20140320_100914Using my ingredients, I created my rub, which is almost like a paste, and rubbed it all over the pork shoulder. I then placed the seasoned meat in the crockpot on low for 9 hours. The timing turned out perfect, but 8 hours would have probably been enough too. With the crockpot on warm, my husband shredded the meat (I was at work), added in a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce, which is his favorite, and left the meat in the crockpot on warm to soak up the sauce.

20140320_215752We paired the barbecue up with Ian’s Gluten Free Onion Rings and Bush’s Baked Beans. My husband ate his on a traditional bun, whereas I opted for a Schar Gluten Free bun (I’ve never heard of Kinninnick buns). It was amazing and by far the best homemade barbecue I’ve ever eaten. The hubs agreed so I must have been doing something right since he can be very particular about barbecue. It has a nice, thick moistness and isn’t runny or overly liquidy like some barbecue can be. I sincerely, enthusiastically, emphatically encourage everyone to try this recipe. I’m confident that you’ll love it. No, really, try it!

I was not compensated for this review. It represents my own experience with this recipe, which I encourage everyone to try out for themselves. And check out “Mom, What’s for Dinner?” for more gluten free recipes.

Reviews You Can Use: Barkbox

20131021_231346I signed Buddy up for BarkBox about a year ago using a deal I found on Groupon. It just looked too good to pass up and it must have been, because he’s been obsessed ever since.

Each box, which is sent out on the 15th of every month, usually has about five or six items in it and includes toys, treats and accessories. We’ve gotten everything from balls to salmon treats. For the most part, Buddy has loved everything, but he definitely has his favorites including a plastic treat ball and a once-stuff yellow zucchini. The only thing he really didn’t care for was a wool mouse which cause a serious coughing fit. I think wool isn’t his thing, so on the rare occasion when he gets a wool toy, we just 20140220_200544store it in the closet. He always loves the treats that come in the box and we haven’t purchased treats since signing up. Also, he loves when they send him the occasional bully stick, although he probably eats them way too fast.

The one thing I do wish is that they’d come up with more indestructible toys. Buddy may be small, but he is mighty and toys don’t last very long when he’s involved. He always destuffs any stuffed toy, pulls out the squeaker and makes a total mess. He does continue to play with them though after so I can’t 20140318_211327complain too much. Even the toys that are marked as tough get destroyed. With any of
the rubber toys, once he starts breaking the rubber off in pieces, I take it away. Even though it appears like he just chews it off and spits it out to move on the next piece, I can’t risk him swallowing it. That could get expensive quick.

Besides the toy suggestion, I really don’t have any Barkbox complaints. The boxes are great and the customer service is amazing. 20140309_144022Each month they send a survey to see how you liked your box and ask for suggestions on products for future boxes. I suggested Bowser Beer (a non-alcoholic dog beer) on a few surveys and lo and behold it showed up in a future box. You really can’t ask for more than that. I would say there’s an interesting conditioning thing that comes with subscribing to Barkbox. Everytime I get any box in the mail, Buddy automatically thinks it’s for him. He’ll jump around and try to attack it until he finally realizes it’s not his box. Silly dog. I can’t imagine how that works with large dogs and mailmen…

If you’re interested in checking out Barkbox, click here or use any of the Barkbox links contained in this post to save $5 off your first month. Buddy will thank you because he’ll also get a free box added to his subscription. Plus, proceeds from every box go to animals in need which is a really cool additional feature of subscribing.

 

I did not receive compensation for this review. It represents my own (and Buddy’s) experience with Barkbox.

Baking with Buddy: Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage

20140317_104926Let’s talk corned beef. First, let’s talk about how hard it is to find corned beef, not only the day before St. Patrick’s Day, but also the day before a rare St. Patrick’s Day snowstorm. After driving to various grocery stores, I finally found what I was looking for, but I really do suggest if you’re going to try this around leprechaun time shop early!

With that out of the way, let’s get into the recipe. I love corned beef and cabbage. It’s something my mom routinely made when I was growing up, but this was my first attempt at actually cooking it myself. I’ll also note that although the recipe is called Mom’s Corned Beef, it’s not my mom’s recipe, but rather the author’s mother’s recipe. Sorry mom.

The recipe I used is from “Four Generations One Roof” and I discovered it via Pinterest. Here it is.

20140317_105935Mom’s Corned Beef & Cabbage (crockpot)

Ingredients: 

1 small head of cabbage

1 large bag of carrots

5 Peeled potatoes

1 -2 lb Corned Beef

1 can beef broth

3 cups water

Italian seasoning or pepper (last hour of cooking)

Directions:

Add your carrots and cabbage to the crockpot. Add water and beef broth. Place corned beef on top an add your potatoes. You will need to stuff the potatoes on the side of the corn beef and down towards the vegetables. Cover and cook on high for 7 hours. Corned beef is very salty and flavorful so it’s not necessary to season at this point, unless of course you want to :)

20140317_112008Being that there’s just two of us, (me and the hubs, no corned beef for Buddy), I used approximately a 1lb. corned beef and a small head of cabbage. I also opted for a smaller bag of carrots, three potatoes and, being gluten free, made my beef broth using Better than Bouillon. I followed the instructions, peeling my carrots and potatoes until I couldn’t peel no more. I put the carrots and cabbage in the crockpot, followed by the beef broth and then the corned beef on top. I then stuffed the potatoes down towards the vegetables and cooked that joker on high for 7 hours. During the last 30 minutes, I added some Italian seasoning. I know it was supposed to be added for the last hour, but I forgot.

20140317_185416The dish came out great, although it wasn’t like mama fixed it. (Little Alan Jackson for you.) The cabbage wasn’t prominent enough, but the rest was fairly fabulous and kudos to me for getting in the Irish spirit. (Although I’m Scottish so my ancestors probably didn’t appreciate it.)  Really, it could have been made to a smaller scale though because we had a ridiculous amount of leftovers. Live and learn.

I have no affiliation with Four Generations One Roof and found their recipe via Pinterest. This post represents my experience with it.

Jamming with Jamberry…

20140309_223801Last month, a friend contacted me about hosting a Jamberry party. She had just signed up as a consultant for the company, which specializes in nail wraps, and was looking for some friends to host parties. Having never used Jamberry before, I asked for a sample and agreed to host a virtual online party.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a “no muss no fuss” kind of girl. Please don’t ask me to spend hours, or really even minutes, doing anything that can even loosely be called primping. I need quick, fast and easy. Luckily, Jamberry met those guidelines.

20140309_230354

Directly after application

Using nail scissors (which of course I don’t have so it was Fiskars all the way), you cut the wrap to match your nail and then apply it using heat. I used a hairdryer, which basically roasted my fingers, but it’s recommended that you use a nail dryer or even a sock filled with rice heated in the microwave. The latter is probably the method I’ll use in the future, because even though I got it on fairly easily, it wasn’t perfect and my OCD self could barely handle that.

Anyway, with my sassy pink nail wrap fully applied, I watched and waited. My consultant, Haley, put me to the test, asking for updates to see how long the wrap lasted. Surprisingly, it lasted nine days and probably would have lasted longer, but the Sally Hansen polish on my other nails was mad chipped and I just couldn’t take it anymore! The nail wrap started to peel a little at about day seven, but I’m that’s likely due to my less than stellar application.

20140316_233222

Seven days after application

Needless to say, I’m a Jamberry believer! It’s really easy and lets me have a sassy party nail with little fuss involved. Plus, while one sheet is $15, you can get multiple applications out of it. And the designs are pretty fun. Plus, I really like how you can host online parties versus the hassle of having a traditional product party and you can order online even without hosting, or being part of, a party. I was also really pleased with the shipping time. I placed an order on Tuesday evening and it was at my house by Friday afternoon. That’s almost Amazon Prime fast.

For more information about Jamberry, visit Haley’s website by clicking here. Happy Jamming!

I was not compensated for this review. It represents my own personal experience with the Jamberry line.