Thursday, May 29, 2014

Influenster Viva la VoxBox Product Review

I was selected by Influenster to review the following products in the Viva la VoxBox.  I was supposed to do a YouTube video, but since I recently had neck surgery I was unable to film.

This VoxBox had lots of fun goodies. I really liked some of the products. First up is the Cetaphil Cleansing Cloths. I really liked that the cloths were gentle and didn't burn, sting or irritate my skin. The cloths removed my makeup, cleaned my face and left my skin feeling clean and refreshed. It didn't leave an oily feel or make my skin feel tight. I really liked that.
In my opinion, the cloths were rather large and could have been cut in half. Other than that, they did their job effectively. 

A 25-count package retails for about $7.49.
My box also included the new Vaseline Spray & Go in the scent Cocoa Radiant. I loved the smell of the spray. It is perfect for summer and reminds me of the beach. The spray is very moisturizing without feeling heavy and oily. It does dry quite quickly.
My daughter uses this spray as a daily moisturizer under her make up every day. It absorbs very fast. 
I will certainly be purchasing this product on a regular basis.

A 6.5 ounce bottle retails for $5.94 at Wal-Mart.

Montagne Juenesse sent a Creamy Coconut face mask. I absolutely loved the smell of the face mask. It applied easily and I could have probably gotten two uses from one package. The Creamy Coconut mask is suitable for all skin types and is supposed to moisturize and hydrate the skin.
I did apply it before a shower and I feel that my face seemed hydrated and softer. I believe that it did exactly what it was supposed to.
I loved the easy application, the smell and the feel of my skin after using it.
The best part is the price. A one time use packet retails for about $1.49 at Wal-Mart. 

I also received an NYC City Proof Twistable Intense Lip Color. This one was a bit difficult for me because the color that was sent was red...very, very red. I am a strong believer that red, like blond hair, is very specific to each person. Not everyone can wear any shade of red, just like not everyone will look great in one shade of blond. I think it takes a lot of trial and error or a visit to a really good make-up artists to help you find the right shade of red. 
So...with that said..I did try the lip color. It was too red for me but I did like the way it applied. It did last through out the day with out having to reapply and the bonus...IT DID NOT BLEED!!
Had the lip color been a neutral, or even softer shade of red, I would have worn it on a daily basis.
I will be looking for a shade that is suitable for me for when I go back to work. The product is well worth the price.
A full size lip color retails for $2.99. 
The Shell Fuel Reward Card was a new concept to me. Honestly, I am still learning about it but I will give you the overview of what I understand it to be. First you sign up for a Shell Fuel Reward Card by requesting one online or picking one up at your local Shell station. Then you link a major credit card to you Shell card and start earning points and rewards with you everyday purchases. You can earn up to $0.25 per gallon of gas that you put in and also earn rewards on when you dine at restaurants, shop at certain stores, buy groceries and make purchases in convenience stores.
Once you have enough rewards earned, you can actually pay for fuel with the earned rewards on your Shell Fuel Reward Card. This is ideal for my family since my husband drives alot for work. And I think anything you can do to earn points/rewards by purchasing things you normally always purchase is a great idea!
The cost of the reward card...FREE!!

And my personal favorite was the Pure Ice Nail Polish. I received the two colors shown below. 
I've often seen these polishes but have been reluctant to purchase them because of their cheap price. I am happy to say I am very pleased with them after trying them out.
They apply easy and do not bubble. The colors are nicely pigmented and do not require multiple coats. The only downside is that they did chip after 2-3 days and that was with a base and top coat.
I have purchased a few additional colors for spring.
These polishes are only available at Wal-Mart and retail for $1.97. 
Overall, I  was pleased with all the of products I received. There are several products that will become staples in my household. I am still trying to figure everything about the Shell Reward Card. 

**I was not paid to write this review. I was given the products free of charge by Influenster and all opinions are my own.**

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chebureki - Meat Pastry Recipe

Ever since I can remember, my Papa Bear has talked about this Russian meal that has ground meat inside a pastry. 
I've made sausage rolls, sausage bread, sausage balls...nothing was even  close.
Then my husband went out of town with his friend and ate at a Russian restaurant. 
And there it was....
Naturally, when he got home all he could talk about what the Chebureki. And next, naturally, he set out on his mission to recreate this dish.
(I think there is nothing cuter than my husband, with my apron on, in my kitchen, covered in flour and spices! LOVE IT!!)
For the dough he combined:
2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups of flour
      1/2 cup water (depending of feel of dough)
4 Tbsp of olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 tsp salt

1.) Whisk together all dry ingredients, then add olive oil.
2.) Add water and knead until the dough is no longer sticky.
(If it's sticky, add a bit more flour. If it's stiff, add a bit more water.)
You will see the dough no longer stick to your fingers. That's when you know it's good to go.

3.) In a separate bowl, combine:
1-2 lbs of ground meat
(We used 1 lb each of beef and lamb)
1/2 onion finely chopped
finely chopped parsley, cilantro, green onions
salt and pepper to taste

4.) Roll dough flat to a thickness of about 1/10 inch.
5.) Use small size bowl or lid to create circles, and cut.
(For remaining dough, roll, flatten and cut until all dough used.) 
6.) Fill one side of each circle with meat mixture. Leave a small edge. Pull the empty side of the circle over, covering meat. Press the edges together.
7.) Place each Chebureki meat pastry pouch into a prepared pan w/hot oil.
(We cooked ours alternating between medium and low-medium.)
Cook each about 5-7 minutes on each side until golden brown. 
Drain each Chebureki on a plate with a few paper towels.
Serve alone or with feta cheese or sour cream. 
There are so many variations you can create with this.
You can use ground chicken, potatoes, add feta cheese inside, use only fresh veggies name it.
The most important thing is getting the dough down and with this recipe, the dough is super simple. 

These Chebureki were so very delicious. I can't believe they were so super simple and we waited this long (nearly 20 years) to make it!
I can certainly see this being served on a regular basis, because they are so very simple!!!

We had storms all night and they are supposed to continue all day. There are flash floods warning though out the area. 
This is the perfect day to stay home and bake. My neck is still having cramps and spasms, so it will have to be my girls baking.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Screen Door Memories

Monday my girls and I took a quick adventure over to Sauer-Beckmann Farm on the Lyndon B Johnson State Park. I'll be sharing those photos later but for now I would like to bring attention to one thing....

the screen door on the front porch. 
I grew up in a small country town where nearly every home had at least a front screen door. I personally can't remember seeing a home without a back screen door as well. 

For me, this evokes so many wonderful memories...
hot summer, pastel and neon colored cotton shorts and screen print t-shirts. My hair up in a high pony tail or a French Braid courtesy of my mother. White clean Nike shoes and socks that matched my shirt.

There is nothing like the squeak of the opening screen door and the slam behind you. Is it really a screen door without that wonderful sound? That sound meant fun was happening outside. There were stuffed animals to teach...grasshoppers to pester...cartwheels and front handsprings to do...cheers to yell...bikes to ride.... 
Standing inside, looking out the screen door, left you open to limitless possibilities. The world awaited you. Playing King of the Hill with Joshua and Jonathan or softball with Sam. Barbeque's with the Nobles and eating Mom's potato salad and drinking her homemade sweet tea.
To me a screen door means family. The louder the squeak, the more memories and love and laughter were made. Each slam welcomed friends and family over and bade goodbye to a happy evening. If the door had chipped and worn paint..even better. Screen doors are not meant to be pristine and quiet. They are not from that era. They are as much a part of me and my childhood as the scar on my left knee.

And don't get me started on front porch swings. They go hand in hand with screen doors. Open the screen door..hear the slow, sweet squeak.
Close the screen door...hear that happy, knowing slam.
Skip over to the front porch swing...feel the anticipation.
Hop up on it's welcoming bench and rusty, giddy, feeling the moment.
Give it a swift kick....feel the wind rush against your cheek, play in your hair.
....Lean back and relax....

How many memories do I hold that were created on one of Grandpa's swings? I don't know if I can count that high.
I can certainly recall the bratty-ness of me and Michael. Him pushing me high in the swing, me laughing and screaming. And Joe, my grandpa's farm hand, screaming out the window "Noooo push her that high..."
And Michael picking up a stick and throwing it at the screen that Joe was pressing his face against. 
I knew it was wrong, but I laughed.
I also knew that we wouldn't get in trouble because my grandpa was allowing him to work the farm and live in his fruit stand. 
As a child I didn't know that homes could exist without screen doors and porch swings. I thought they were as much a part of a house as a kitchen or bathroom. Now that I'm an adult and have my own home I have neither a screen door or a porch swing. I have, instead, an annoying HOA who loves to bark about everything but actually do nothing. I have a driveway that is so slanted you injure yourself if you park on it. I have a tiny front yard that can be cut with a trimmer. My front yard is about the size of my grandpa's potato garden.
And I think the saddest thing is that my girls will NEVER know the excitement of hearing a screen door squeak and then slam. They will never grow up telling secrets to their friends or listening to the crackly FM radio while feeling the breeze on the front porch swing. 
And me....I will never have the joy of yelling at my girls to keep the screen door shut so flies don't get in. Nor will I have the pleasure of hearing my girls giggle with their friends or hum and sing messed up lyrics to their favorite song on the radio.
My girls missed out on something that I feel was such an integral part of my childhood. I hope that I can give those memories to my grandchildren.
I'm prepared to wait for that though...hopefully a very, very long time!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Birchbox April 2014 Review

My April 2014 Birchbox was really good. I'm glad that it was because I have been on the fence about whether to keep it or not. The past few months have been just ok...and that's giving it alot more credit than it deserves.
So I told myself I would give them one more month and if Aprils box was full of lotion sample packets I was cancelling. 
Thank you BirchBox for giving me something I can actually use!!

I was very excited to try the Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel. This was my first time trying an Anastasia Brow product (though I've always wanted to) and I really, really like it.
It is clear and went on great. It doesn't have any scent at all and the best part was that it lasted all day.
That's saying alot for a product that held up to Texas' 100 degree day!
Will I purchase a full size? You betcha!

I'm always excited to try leave in conditioners. My hair can get really dried out in the Texas humidity, so when I see a sample of leave in conditioner in my BirchBox, I may just squeal a little.
This sample of Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle got my heart pumping.
the spray was broken and I wasn't able to use it.
That was really disappointing because:
A.) I love the rubberized bottle presentation
B.)It smells great
C.) It was a decent sample size
So, I emptied some on my hand and ran it through the ends of my hair. My hair was not at all tangle-y, which is HUGE for me, especially now, since I have to have my hair up in a bun all the time because of the neck braces. 
My hair feels soft, it's not heavy and weighed down AND when I brush my hair I get a slight whiff of that soft, sweet smell.
Will I purchase a full size? It's very likely. 
I have had a few Supergoop samples previously and they've been fine. It is a more expensive item and honestly, if I'm going to spend that amount of money on a face cream, I'm going to need a sample that is a bit larger than just for a two-time use.
However, I did use it and it seemed just fine. I honestly didn't notice any earth shattering differences between this and other sunscreens other than the smell. Supergoop doesn't have that "sunscreen" smell. It doesn't burn when it goes on and it never feels heavy. You could honestly apply it right before putting on your foundation and it would be just fine. It's not greasy at all.
This Supergoop Daily Correct CC Cream did have a slight tint to it that would work for a wide array of skin tones. I liked that. In fact, I didn't have to add anything other than mascara and lip gloss to walk out the door. So I did like it much better than my other Supergoop super-mini samples.
Will I purchase a full size? Probably not. I need a larger sample to use at least for a week to see if it's worth the money.

I always like when I receive nail polish samples in my monthly subscriptions because:
A.) It's usually a color I wouldn't think of trying
B.) It introduces me to brands other than Essie and OPI
C.)The colors are right on season
D.) I usually fall in love

This month I received Color Club Gala's Gem Collection in the color Breakfast At....
This soft emerald pearl that is JUST PERFECT for spring. I put it on immediately and like other Color Club polishes I used, it applied great. There was no bubbling or streaking and the polish lasted almost a week before I had to touch it up. I had several compliments on the color. 
I was happy!
Will I purchase a full size? I'm not sure if the have a full size or just a mini-set...but either way YES I would!
And last but not least was this sample of KIND Health Grain Bars. THIS is why I love/recommend/keep BirchBox. I would never in a million years pick up something like this to just sample and try. was in my box and is delicious!
The sample bar didn't have that diet, gritty, meal taste or texture.
It was actually a very nice grain bar with a delicious taste. I will definitely have a box of these in my desk when I go back to work. 
Will I purchase a full size? Absolutely!!
I was super happy with this months BirchBox.
If you would like to try BirchBox out click here!