Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Love with Food

I actually didn’t intend to renew my Love with Food subscription, but their communication methods are terrible and I didn’t even know that it was coming up for renewal until I saw the charge on my credit card. I’ve already canceled for the future because it’s just not enough value for me, especially since more than half of the items have dairy.


This month wasn’t that bad, it just wasn’t special either. I’ve seen a lot of the items, or similar ones, but the Beanitos and Lentil chips were a neat item to try out and I could see myself buying lentil chips in the future. I wouldn’t specifically need this brand, but I might try them again if they were cheaper than pita chips. They did have a slight aftertaste that I didn’t like, but that might have just been this brand/flavor. Other than that, I was able to eat the marshmallow because I didn’t know that it had chocolate chips in it (they really need to list allergens on their info cards), and I also had the gummies, which were fruit snacks, the granola bar, which was a granola bar, and the weird South Asian trail mix that was gross. Cole got all the cookies and puffs.

Boo Love with Food. Boo.

July BarkBox


This is probably the prettiest BarkBox I have ever seen. The theme was pretty much Bone Jour, and it was a big hit with me. Not sure about Gracie because she actually one had one item so far!


This month included:

Bocce’s Bakery Chicken Cordon Blue treats ($6), which she sent to her cousin in Idaho

IMG_4976Superior Farms Venison Crepe ($6)- Um yes, my princess does deserve a crepe! Can you believe that this thing actually looks appealing? It looks weird in the picture, and I actually kept thinking that it was a whole chicken when I was posting this, but the thing looks so good. It’s “packed with protein and dusted with liver for added flavor”. Yes. Just yes. Gracie loved it so much.


The other two items were from Harry Barker and were just too cute to have her destroy yet. The Eiffel Tower ($12) and Toile Bone ($10) look like items I would actually buy to decorate my house and I did just that. I put them on the mantle around the picture frames. I will eventually give them to Gracie, but I am waiting to part with them. The bone even has little scenes of classy puppies! So cute.

This month earned its keep!

Thrifty Thursday


Ahhh, the wonderful site that is, smiley360! This site is absolutely wonderful. They frequently offer the chance to be on missions and try out new products, for FREE! While my wonderful friend, Kim, received an offer to try out a brand new memory foam pillow, I received an offer to try a new spinbrush and motion sickness pills. This is actually fantastic as I was just thinking about trying an electric toothbrush but had no idea where to start, and I do actually get motion sickness even from being in a car.


So far, I am loving the Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant toothbrush. I’m not a big fan of the toothpaste because it doesn’t really foam I guess you would call it- it kind of just sits there in your mouth and you end up drooling all over the place. It’s weird. I wouldn’t buy the toothpaste, but I am planning on buying Cole one of the toothbrushes. Definitely a success.


Now, the Bonine. I had never heard of this brand, but it would be similar to Dramamine. I typically get drowsy even on the non-drowsy Dramamine, so I look forward to trying this.

*I'm a member of smiley360, where I qualify to try brands for free in exchange for sharing my authentic feedback.

I don’t think I have mentioned it much on here before, but there is a wonderful website called House Party. It’s a website where companies put on event promotions that you can throw from the comfort of your home. And they provide all the goodies for free! I’ve only done one of these through Silk, because I didn’t have many others that applied to me, and it is a little hard to get friends to commit to come. I loved the Silk one because I do use their products daily, but let my account with House Party get a little lax.

IMG_5003I was extremely excited when House Party came out with Chatterbox, which is right up my alley. This one is an offer a lot like smiley360, but harder to come by. I’ve applied for a variety of the offers, but haven’t been chosen- until now! I was so extremely excited to be picked for the Mary Kay® Clear Proof™ Acne System Chatterbox. As you may have read, I have an allergic reaction to cow dairy products that causes me to break out. I’ve since tried to limit all moo intake, but dairy is in everything! Did you know that it’s in chicken bouillon cubes?? It’s very difficult to completely avoid, so I still suffer from at least one pimple at all times. I’m also heavily impacted by extreme stress on my face, so that’s a jewel to deal with. While I lead a pretty stress-free life and try to avoid the evil moo, it doesn’t always work.

IMG_5004I’ve had various Mary Kay products in my beauty routine for years, but am not a die hard. I love the quality and generally find a couple items that I like more than any others on the market, but I don’t buy everything through them. A couple of my staples are the concealer and primer. They are just better quality than other items, for a great price. Knowing that I trust Mary Kay items, I immediately started this acne system routine. I’ve been through Proactiv and a couple other systems without unfailing success, so I get how it works. I typically experience a lot of drying of my face and even bleaching of my sheets, but I haven’t had any problems with either of these in the week that I have used them. I have still gotten a large and painful pimple that it did nothing to prevent or get rid of though. So at this point, I don’t know that I would keep spending $40 to renew this product. I’ll continue to use it and do a couple dairy tests to see if it impacts it at all.

On the last Thrifty item, it is hot here! We’ve been in the upper 90’s to 100’s lately, which when you have 2 stories of windows, can get pretty steamy. This hasn’t been a big issue before because we were typically able to cool down the house at night, but it’s been staying in the high 70’s at night with no cooling options. Anyway, I have about 4-5 extra sets of curtains from our previous house and ones that were left in Rockwood, so we rigged up some summer drapes for the largest window. I’ll have to figure out something for the 1/4 circles since they are too wide for the normal fan blinds. Ghetto, but effective.


Blackberry Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Cole is an ice cream fiend. I don’t remember that it was actually that bad until I received an ice cream maker from my mom for Christmas one year, but since then, the guy wants fresh ice cream every week, sometimes more. Also, he has decided that he only likes fresh ice cream, so he must eat all of the leftovers or else they aren’t as good. Great logic.

Since I can’t have the moo products, I’ve found that coconut milk is a fantastic substitution, and we typically like it more since it’s less heavy, but has just as much flavor. My go-to recipe is by Two Peas & Their Pod for Vegan Coconut Raspberry Ice Cream. I haven’t found the best brand of coconut milk to make this with, but I usually rely on Silk Unsweetened Unflavored Coconut Milk.


We always change up the mix-ins depending on our moods, but Cole loves anything with fruit. Our favorite is typically a purple cow, which has blackberries and orange juice, but we were out of orange juice, so Cole had to settle for blackberry. Since seeds in ice cream are the worst, I made him strain out the juice because it’s a pain.


If you haven’t yet, buy yourself an ice cream maker. It’s well worth the investment. I like the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, which can range from $80-$100. 2 quarts will make about 3-4 good servings in 30 minutes. I don’t recommend getting the KitchenAid Ice Cream attachment, and here are my thoughts behind that- you pay $250-$450 for your mixer. Well,churning ice cream takes some power and 30 minutes of runtime. Do you want to run your super expensive mixer for 30 minutes?? Would you want to hand stir ice cream into a frozen consistency over 30 minutes? That’s the strength it takes. I can just imagine my mixer starting to smoke and stall from making ice cream each week for a year. I would rather have one more kitchen gadget to store than replace my mixer baby. I’ve had my ice cream maker for about 3 years now with absolutely no problems. Even if I have problems, I could replace it 4 times over instead of wearing out my mixer. So, while it’s tempting to get the KitchenAid attachment and only have the bowl to freeze, the small amount of space that the Cuisinart takes up is worth not worrying and stressing about wearing out my mixer.

Braised Pork Ragu

The wonderful Bakers Royale does this as a braised beef, but roast is expensive, so mine is pork. I think beef would have been so much better because it’s a red wine, which should be with dark meat, but this was still a great switch-up.

imageBraised Beef Ragu | Bakers Royale


Since this recipe didn’t require any cow products in the actual base, I followed the recipe closely. I also added rosemary, which was great because it was on hand, but didn’t make it so much better. Also, there is no way I was going out to buy anchovy paste and Bakers Royale admitted that the original didn’t have that so I went without.


Overall, it was very time consuming, so I wouldn’t make it in a pinch, but it was a nice recipe for a Sunday. I would definitely do it with beef next time though. 7 stars.

ThredUp July Purchase

IMG_4934It’s no secret that I love ThredUp. The place is a treasure-trove of great clothes. I didn’t get any shoes this time, but I had some absolutely fantastic finds. I’m always amazed that they are able to fit my goodies in a box that fits in my mailbox.

Granted, my mailbox is huge, but I’m always happy when I don’t have to make the trip to the Post Office.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that ThredUp is getting a little lax is what they are accepting these days. The quality of my items hasn’t been as high, but I feel like the prices may have gone up a bit. Also, I had a HUGE problem with the smell of this order, but TU’s customer service was amazing and extremely responsive. Basically, the long maxi skirt that’s in the bottom middle of the picture below smelt so horrible. When I opened the box there was this cloud of nasty smell that came out. Since TU doesn’t individually wrap their items as Twice does, everything had the smell. After sniffing each item, I finally found the one that was the worst. Cole walked into the room and even asked what had happened because the smell was starting to move out of the bedroom and into the living room. So bad.


I was unable to remove the smell from a couple of the items I really wanted to keep so I contacted TU and they paid for return shipping. I really wanted a couple of the skirts, but just couldn’t get past the smell, even after dry cleaning them twice.

But here are the loves-


This skirt is Gap (4.80) and the top is Max Studio (14.80). The skirt is cute and is work appropriate enough- it just looks a little shorter because my thighs are long. The top…is amazing. It’s 100% silk and feels incredible. It’s not tight and has a little longer back. I don’t typically like longer backs, but this is a fancy enough top that it works. I’ve already worn it multiple times and always get compliments on it.


A pretty basic black top, but it’s also 100% silk and is by Tinley Road (12.60) so it’s a great one for a more polished look.


This Banana Republic skirt (13.60) is great- I was apparently on a silk kick- but I haven’t been able to find the right top for it yet, so I haven’t been able to wear it. I did find one at Maurice’s that might work, but I have such a problem paying full price for things when I haven’t done so since finding this site.


White my expression is so weird, this Helen Kaminski hat (12.80) is great. I am not a hat person and typically look odd in them, I have been wearing this to church while we have outdoor services in the heat and it has definitely earned its keep.


Now, my absolute rockstar find. A Helmut Lang silk dress (61.99). Yes, $62 for a dress is soooo excessive for my frugal ways, but after polling my mom and one of my best friends, we decided that I NEEDED this dress. I wore it with a pair of BCBG champagne pumps I had from a previous TU find, and I felt amazing. It’s not too fancy, but it’s perfect for a day at work where I want to feel like I am a frugal goddess for saving more than $200 on a dress.


The rest of the goodies had to be returned…because they smelled like death. The pics above don’t include 2 additional skirts because they were wrapped up back in the box and hidden in the dryer because that’s the only place the smell wouldn’t attack again. Soooo bad. It took me 3 dry cleaning rounds to remove the smell from the items I did keep because there was no way I was letting that dress go.

So, if you want to take a chance with ThredUp, you go knock yourself out, but remember, return shipping is on you so choose wisely.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tank from Old Shirt

I love tank tops. I wear them about 99.9% of the time. The only time I am not wearing one is when I have a dress on. Otherwise, I use them under normal shirts, around the house, working out, pretty much anything. I am not big on regular shirts because I always feel like they are suffocating me, so this project was great.I can’t believe I never thought to do it before.

DIY Tanktop from old shirts

(I don’t have an original source on this, unfortunately.)

My shirt was a men’s size, but I really shouldn’t have wasted my time altering it down, because it would have been fine a little baggy. I used a tank top that I love, but I would suggest using one that is not a stretchy material. This ended up being too tight and I have to stretch it out whenever I wash it.


A quick and easy project!

THE Swimsuit Cover-up

Wow, this is probably one of the best wins I have ever had, and it’s SO EASY! The hardest part is finding the fabric you like best. La Vie DIY has great instructions and I only had a little bit of confusion over the strap length. Do this. Do this immediately.

Beach Cover Up... Would be super easy to make with cute ribbon and terry cloth.

DIY 20 Minute Beach Cover Up

You'll need...
1.75 yards of jersey or stretchy cotton material (I found this was a great measurement, but you could use most lightweight fabrics also)
Thread + needle or sewing machine (If you use a light cotton you could use the machine)
Existing tank top for comparison (This took out the arm cutting guesswork)


(1) Cut it. Cut any length down to desired. *I cut mine in half for 1.75 yards (5.25 feet) width by about 2 feet length, or whatever exactly half of my fabric was. You'll also need to make underarm areas. I did that by folding it in half and cutting a deep "C". *I used my comparison tank top for this, which took all the guessing out of it.


(2) Braid it. Next, take some extra fabric (ribbon in my case) to create the braided straps. –This is where the instructions did not work for me. I ended up only needing about 1.5 feet of ribbon for the straps. I used 3 colors and braided them together.- Knot the ends of 3 pieces together. Repeat for the other strap.


(3) Attach it. Pin the braids to the corners of the underarm areas. Adjust the length until they fit your shoulder. Sew them. *This is where it’s important to size your straps correctly before you spend the time sewing. I ended up tying the extra bits together to be sewn again later.

(4) Wear it. Start with the fabric behind you and wrap one side across your body, putting your arm through the strap. Repeat. Move the fabric around so that it lays nicely. Admire. You can choose to hem the entire project if you'd like. With Jersey, it doesn't fray so it isn't necessary, the unhemmed jersey will just roll a bit. It will look more professional if you hem, of course. IF YOU NEED CLARIFICATION OR HAVE QUESTIONS- click here to go to the la vie diy website, where she does an amazing job.


You. Will. Love. This. With the 1.75 yards of fabric I bought, I had enough to make another one once I cut it in half. I’d say this cost me about $10!


Here are a couple fails for warning. I actually followed all of the rules on these, so there’s no excuse for them not being good.

My thoughts are that there is some good pinning going on for the original photos as they are not on an actual person. They did look good, as long as you didn’t need to move and have them readjust.

#1- No Sew, T-Shirt Skirt

Here is what it should look like:

Here’s what it looks like:


This wouldn’t be terrible, but the area where you tie it bags terribly and looks so weird. The only way that I could figure out to make it a little better was to tie it on the side.


I was going to include the instructions because I took pictures along the way, but I would rather save you the irritation of this one. It’s just not attractive.

#2- Side Tied Shirt, DIY




Now this one isn’t as disappointing as the first, and might actually work, but it will probably annoy you the entire time you wear it because you will always be checking it. I’ll include instructions, just in case.

Tee-shirt* mine is a men's medium

  • Lay out your shirt.


  • Use an existing tank top to mark arm holes and neckline desired.
  • Cut the sleeves apart at the top seam.


  • Tie the cut pieces together across one shoulder.
  • This is where I changed things. Obviously the first picture I have is ugly. I found that if I tied the loose pieces to the OPPOSITE loose piece, it would lay better. It's tight and pulls a little bit- and you have to untie it to take the shirt off- but at least I don't have to throw away a new shirt that I just cut up.


Basically, I wouldn’t recommend either project. Neither is cute.