Let’s talk tea…

As you know from previous posts this week, I have felt a bit under the weather this week. While I am feeling better, when I feel badly I gravitate towards tea. Now it isn’t my normal tea. When I am feeling well I tend to go for flavored blends, usually from the Art of Tea. They have so many mixes that I absolutely love. However those are the relax and savor sorts of teas.

And that is not what today’s post is about. Not that these two teas aren’t absolutely delicious and nice to drink on a cold winter’s day when you are curled up with a book. But they are the teas I reach for when I am feeling under the weather and need something comforting while I fill my body with fluids.

You will notice that one is caffeinated and one is not. I am used to a certain amount of coffee in my day, but when I don’t feel well coffee can be a little bit acidic. Still sometimes, a little boost of caffeine isn’t a bad thing.

The first tea I reach for though is the Twinings Lemon and Ginger Herbal tea. With just a drop of honey it is the perfect beverage for when you feel under the weather. The lemon is bright and the ginger is just a bit sharp which means that I can actually taste it even when my nose is clogged. Adding the honey makes it feel both comforting and slightly medicinal. (My grandmother used to but a lemon slice with honey in hot water for me to drink when I was sick as a kid).

Now the Blackberry Tea from Impra is a new addition to my pantry. I came across it in a store and thought, I like blackberry. I decided to take a chance on it. Usually I find blackberry teas very disappointing. Most of them are herbal blends and they feel more like a generic herbal tea that might have once seen a blackberry. The Impra is a little different. It is good quality black tea that tastes very strongly of blackberry. Not only is the flavor really nice, but because the black berry has a slight sweetness to it, less sugar or honey needs to be added to the cup. In fact I just steep the bag in water and don’t bother adding anything else. In addition, it is really great as Iced tea. When serving it cold though the natural sweetness dims so you need to add it back in a bit before you chill it.

The blackberry tea from Impra is also good for making sun tea. With that, I do add sugar and a few slices of lemon. It makes a fantastic summer treat. Right now, these are my top two teas for when I feel bad. The Twinings does see a lot of winter use, and I am sure the Impra will this winter as well, but it is also a fantastic summer blend. If you are a fan of blackberry, I highly recommend it. Good black tea and a fantastic blackberry flavor, it is hard to beat.

Mother’s Day Gifts: The Art of Tea Sampler Set

Today we are continuing with our Mother’s day (or any holiday really) gift ideas but we are taking a bit of a break from bath, body and skin care products. Admittedly this Art of Tea Sampler set is still in the realm of self care.

Growing up my mother was always an early riser. She would get up before anyone else simply so she could brew a cup of tea and sit out on the back porch. There she would sit composing her thoughts, planning her day and enjoying the morning before everyone else was up and demanding her attention. She claimed that having that small time to herself helped prepared her for the day and when she missed it the entire day felt rushed and off balanced.

While she would switch to Earl Gray when we all sat down to breakfast (and for her tea needs throughout the day) the morning cup was varied and she liked to experiment with all different varieties.

This is why one of the items on my list of potential gifts is The Art of Tea’s Sampler pack. They have a six and a nine pack version. The teas come in a beautifully rich, leatherette box with an assortment of delicious teas packaged in eco-friendly teabag sachets.

the individual sampler pack

This set includes 6 teabags of each of the following popular teas and tisanes*: English Breakfast, Green Pomegranate, Mint Green Tea, Earl Grey Crème, Happy, Orchid Oolong, Dark Chocolate Peppermint, Egyptian Chamomile, Sencha Green.

I’ve purchased individual packages of the Earl Gray Creme and the Orchid Oolong for her and she has loved them both so I think this would be an excellent selection for her, or any tea lover to try out.

the matcha set

They actually have many fantastic looking gift sets for tea lovers, including a tea of the month club. The Art of Tea has a small sampler box if you are uncertain how well some of the teas might be received. Taste can be very subjective. My mother has a group of friends who all get together for tea and if there is something she isn’t fond of, she puts it into the trade pile so she and her friends can switch and swap. I did once get the Individual sampler box do see if these sorts of teas were the sort she liked. It contains one sachet of the different teas in the sampler box ($20). She loved it so I now just periodically pick up a bag that I think she will like from The Art of Tea’s website.

They have a wide array of tea themed products from mugs and filter bags to ceremonial matcha sets and canister sets along with a wide array of sampler sets so that you can pick up just the right product for your favorite tea lover. You can check out their gift sets here but don’t forget to visit their home page to see what seasonal and limited time treats they have available. If your mother, or anyone in your life loves tea, this is a great site to bookmark and return to through out the year.

Snacktime: Super Smoothie Green with Apple from Smoothie Box

This is it my darlings. We have reached the fourth and final smoothie variety in the Smoothie Box that the brand sent to me for the purpose of review. Each Monthly Smoothie Box contains four packs of Smoothies. Each of the packs contains five separate smoothie packets so in total there are 20 smoothies included. Each packet contains two portions. In general I find that if I am eating the smoothie for a snack i will only eat half of the package (1 portion) but if I am using it as a lunch then i will mix up the full package. So I would get 20 lunches or 40 snacks out of a Smoothie box. Of the three I’ve tried, the Orange (Clementine) and the Cacao smoothies are fantastic for lunch replacements and the Berry I actually prefer for a snack.

This is the first of the Green with Apple that I have tried so let’s see where I would place it. I will be honest, I left this one for last because I thought it would be too sweet for a meal and thus end up as a snack item. I decided this solely based on the fact that there are both apples and pineapples on the front picture. I know, you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover or a smoothie by it’s bag.

out of the bag (pre blending)

So I blended up the smoothie to see if it would be a lunch item or a snack for later. I blended it with skim milk as I didn’t want to risk the Almond milk making it sweeter than it might be on it’s own. Plus I find that milk is a nice neutral base so that i can determine the actual flavor before I start to adjust it. I can’t lie, when I blended it, the smoothie very much resembled my homemade spinach dip. which isn’t too surprising considering spinach is the first item on the ingredients list.

Full ingredients: Organic Spinach, Organic Granny Smith Apples, Organic Pineapple, Organic avocado, Organic apple juice, Organic Lemon Juice, Organic Brown Flax Seeds and Organic Hemp hearts.

Smoothie Box

And each serving is 80 calories.

When pouring the smoothie into my cup I thought spinach dip. I had to look away to convince my brain that it wasn’t spinach dip. It didn’t smell like spinach dip, which helped. while there is an undertone of spinach the smoothie tasted predominantly of brown flax seeds with a little bit of the hemp hearts thrown in. Occasionally there would be a little nibblet that would make me think apple or pineapple, but it is overwhelmingly flax and hemp heart. It is a very seed-y tasting smoothie.

Which is not a bad taste, just not what I was expecting. And oddly, I miss the sweetness. I think this one could do with a little hint of sweetness added to kind of balance out the seed/nutty taste. In all of the smoothies there were recommendations. With almost all of them I was worried that the additions would make them too sweet and take them out of lunch territory and into snack milkshake ground. (Except for the cold brew coffee added to the cacao smoothie. If I could have that for breakfast every day I would.)

with this smoothie I think the add ins would not only make it delicious, i think they might make it better. The suggestions for possible add ins include, Protein powder, Almond Milk, fruit juice, banana or nut butter. I try not to do too many add ins because I don’t want to increase the calories too much. For me though I think adding the almond milk and banana are the way to go with this smoothie. The almond would pair well with the nuttiness of the seeds and add a little sweetness and the banana I think would bring the other fruit forward a little more.

The smoothie isn’t bad on it’s own, but it feels very one note. I love the iron level, calcium, and protein that I get form this, I just want to add a little bit of sweetness. I will happily have this smoothie as a lunch, but it is the only one that I received in the variety pack where I feel the add ins are needed. In every other smoothie the flavors were complex enough that it feels like a full developed well thought out smoothie. The add ins would be nice but not necessary. This one, needs just a little bit of help. While this Green with Apple is probably my least favorite of the smoothies, it is still quite delicious and I will be consuming all of them during various lunch times. I will also be picking up a bunch of bananas.

Kitchen Kit: The Coffee Press

I know, some of you are thinking, ‘But Mimsy I don’t drink coffee.’ I know, and I got you. I am a huge coffee fan and quite honestly I do love a cup of French press coffee.

And I will admit, I bought my first French Press because I had a cup of French Press Coffee and not only thought it tasted good, I thought it looked cool. and I do love a bit of cool Kit. I have several coffee presses and I will tell you that this is one of my favorites because it comes completely apart for easy cleaning, however the truth is i like the orange.

For those who have never used a French Press, You grind your coffee and place it in the bottom of the glass carafe. You then pour boiling water and let it steep (generally around four minutes) then you lower the plunger. The press pushes the grounds to the bottom while leaving the coffee clear and free to pour. The inside lid of my coffee press has a divot cut out for easy pouring. Most do. it should turn so you can keep the heat in while you brew and then turn to dispense. (at the bottom of the page is a diagram with measurements and timing if you are interested.)

I know, not an earth shattering revelation.

Prior to this I only had drip coffee (this was quite some years ago). I loved that i could play around with the strength of the coffee by altering the time I let it steep and adjusting the grind of the coffee. But most importantly I found i could adjust the flavor by adding things to the grind. I believe a cinnamon stick went first. I remember cardamom pods went second and then the third time i tried it, I combined both the cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods.

I played around with different additives for my coffee and then I finally thought, what about things other than coffee? i started playing around with beverages. There were things that needed to be boiled like blueberry simple syrup. I made the simple syrup, added the berries to the caraffe and let them steep then lowered the plunger. I also made cold things. I took out the plunger added a bunch of fresh black berries, filled the caraffe with gin and covered the top with plastic wrap. I sat it in the fridge for a week, took it out and used the plunger to seperate the blackberries from the gin. I actually tend to make that almost every summer so we can use it for cocktails.

However, once my brain switched out of ‘this is a coffee press’ mode, the world was my oyster. As long as the world fit into the coffee press.

the three pieces of the machine

While I love making coffee with my coffee press, my favorite thing to do is to use the press to adapt store bought stock. Chicken stock from a reputable brand is fine, but often it tastes very one note. It honestly tastes like chicken, which is what it should taste like. And Veg stock can often just sort of taste like salty water that might once have been near some vegetables.

But boiling up the stock and putting it into the coffee press with crushed ginger, a crushed garlic clove, lemon zest and some bruised rosemary turns it into something else.

Once you have let it steep you lower the plunger and keep all of the added bits in the bottom of the carafe while the delicious, freshly infused stock, tailored perfectly to your taste and your dish, is poured out and ready for you to use. You don’t have to wonder if someone is going to bite down on a chunk of ginger or garlic, or suddenly find themselves flossing with a bit of rosemary.(Although rosemary is sneaky, I suggest leaving it on the stem and using the back of your knife to bruise the leaves so they let out the oils into the liquid but stays as a branch.)

In my house we keep a couple of different coffee presses. We have both metal and plastic ones. Part of why we have multiples is that I had a couple and my babydoll had a couple and then when we combined houses we had many. This carafe is glass and the plunger is metal which doesn’t tend to keep flavors and if it seems like it isn’t getting clean enough by hand, we put it in the dishwasher which takes anything off of the metal, especially on sanitation mode. My babydoll thinks that the plastic of the carafe (which I don’t send through the dish washer) I use for stock smells like herbs, so we have a separate one so the coffee is never rosemary scented.

I have had to replace the glass carafe and places like Grosche International do carry the glass carafe separately. They also sell replacement plungers if yours has reached the end of it’s life. I know we had to replace a plunger on another one we have a while back. I keep thinking i will purchase a new one at some point, but honestly they are such a simple mechanism that if you take care of them they will last for a really long time.

Personally, I consider this one of my essential Kitchen tools. While I love it for coffee, it is a true multitasker. even if you don’t drink coffee, I would urge you to look into picking one up and playing around with it. they are fairly inexpensive models out there and they are versatile enough that I think they easily earn a place in even a non-coffee drinker’s kitchen.

Although if you are using your coffee press to make coffee, this helpful image from Grosche International has all the measurements and timing you need.

best french press

Snacktime: Super Smoothie Clementine from The Smoothie Box

Recently Smoothie Box sent one of their Smoothie Boxes over to me for the purpose of review. The full review of the box can be found here. This is a review of the individual smoothie, Clementine. As always my thoughts and opinions are my own.

At this time of year, time is at a premium. It is almost as though with the arrival of spring the world wakes up shakes off it’s lethargy and goes into hyperdrive. It is my busiest time of year and honestly, my lunch time game suffers because of it. While a lot of studies go into breakfast being the most important meal of the day, for me lunch time is key.

As anyone following along with my posts on a regular basis knows, I am working towards losing weight. I have no desire to run around in a bikini or imitate any form of model-esque appearance. My goal is simply to be a healthier me. And for me to be healthier I need to get some weight off of my bones. If nothing else it will help out my joints in the long run.

today’s add in

the thing is, I cook. I love to cook. Even before activities were curtailed we ate out at most once a month. Other wise I cook. Which, when paired with a weight loss program, means breaking down recipes by caloric intake and portioning things out. Time is often a factor (for everyone, I know) so a lot of times I will make a larger meal, and then portion it out into several meals, freezing portions so that on days when it is to rushed to cook, I have a meal handy.

In theory, this is fabulous. In practice it means that on the nights I cook I really have to monitor what it is that I am portioning out and not say to myself, ‘Well it wouldn’t hurt to have a little extra since there are so many left overs.’ The key to not doing that is a good lunch. And often an afternoon snack.

These smoothie packs are fantastic for that. The calories are listed on the back, all the ingredients are chopped and ready for blending and they are a great mix of ingredients. This Clementine Smoothie (renamed Orange Smoothie on the website)is 120 calories per portion and has loads of good stuff inside. There are two portions per bag. If I am having it as a snack I will only have one portion. If I am having it for lunch i will have two.

The ingredients in this smoothie mix are: Mandarin Segments, Organic Sweet potatoes, Organic Ginger, Organic Coconut Water, Organic Dates, Organic Coconut Cream, Organic Lemon Juice, Carrots and Pumpkin seeds.

Smoothie Box

It is a really interesting mix. The carrots, mandarins and dates make up the sweetness but the ginger and lemon bring it into the savory category. It is a spicy carroty orange flavor which I really enjoy. While the back of the package recommends adding in bananas, Protein Powder, Banana yogurt Orange Juice or Pineapple juice, today I went rogue. I added coconut water and then added a scoop of vanilla bean Greek Yogurt (I am absolutely loving the brand Noosa right now. For me the Vanilla bean has taken the place of after dinner ice cream. It is my favorite.)

blend

The blend oddly enough ,makes it taste a little more like carrot cake. Which I have to admit is my favorite kind of cake. I have had this smoothie with orange juice before and the juice bumps up the orange flavor (obviously) but even with the added sweetness it still has that ginger spice to it.

drink

For me, I am okay with the sweetness, but if it is too sweet then my brain won’t register it as a meal. It will simply thing of the smoothie as a “treat”. Even though it was vaguely reminiscent of carrot cake, it wasn’t too sweet and it made the perfect lunch. As I knw this afternoon was going to be crazy, I went ahead and mixed it up in the morning and put the smoothie in the fridge to wait until lunch time. That’s actually why I used the yogurt. well besides added taste. It keeps the smoothie thick even though the fridge lets some of the frozen bits melt a little by lunch time. It is still just how I like it. This Clementine (Now Orange) Super Smoothie was a fabulous addition to my day.

Snacktime: Super Smoothie Cacao from Smoothie Box

Recently Smoothie Box gifted me a Smoothie Box for the purpose of review. For the review of the box as a whole you can click this link. As I work through the box I will be trying out each flavor. As always my opinions are my own. The Smoothie Box I received was the variety pack. If you remember some of my earlier posts, I love a good variety pack. It is a great way to try out a bunch of flavors and get a good idea about the brand as a whole. I love this approach with everything from food to perfume Samples.

I put this review in my snack time line up because these smoothies can be either a snack or a lunch time option. Each smoothie is in an individual bag and has two portions in it. I generally find that if I am eating it a a snack, I will blend the entire bag, and then only drink half. If I have the entire bag then I will use it as a meal replacement. So since it can be both, we are calling it Snack time.

the Smoothie I am trying out today is the Super Smoothie Cacao. Like all of the smoothie bags it has two portions inside. each portion is 130 calories. To mix up you need eight to twelve ounces of liquid added to the mix in the bag when you blend it up. I have a traditional blender (although i am looking at some of the more updated blenders because mine is getting up there in age) and to get the smoothies to blend well I need 12 ounces of liquid. With eight ounces things tend to get stuck and it becomes too thick. So I use eight ounces of Skim Milk (90 cal) with four ounces of water. which means when I have this Cacao Smoothie for a lunch it comes in at 350 calories which is the perfect lunch time meal for me.

The contents of the bag

On the back of the bag there are listed recommended add ins which I really like. Sometimes I will add other items into the mix, just so that it varies them a bit more nd makes them taste different. A lot of the times I just add the milk and water. Smoothie Box recommends Bananas, Protein Powder, Almond Milk, Cold brew, and Nut butter. Quite frankly all of them sound like they would be delicious add ins.

They recommend you add in the contents of the smoothie bag first and then add the piquid, but I find with my blender adding the milk and water in first helps keep the frozen bits from getting caught under the blade.

All blended

I chose this smoothie first from the box because I often have issues with chocolate based smoothies. I actually expected this one to be the one I liked the least. I am not a huge fan of overly sweet things. My tastes tend to lean towards the savory. So when you get Cacao type smoothie mixes two things can happen. One they will be very sweet and it will feel like you are drinking a milkshake.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of milkshakes. However, if I drink something that tastes like a milkshake for lunch it will feel like I am just having dessert. My brain will not think of it as lunch and a little while later i will think, ‘Wow that was a nice treat, but I better have some actual lunch now.’ and I will over eat.

the second thing that can happen with chocolate themed smoothies is they can become chalky. I think to make them healthy a lot of healthy smoothie mixes will reduce the amount of cocoa fat too much and they become chalky that way. At least that’s my theory.

Neither of those things happened with this smoothie. There is a chocolaty taste which is quite nice. There is also a banana taste which is quite nice. And actually it is more banana forward than chocolate. There is a nuttiness to the mix and underneath is a light vegetal note. It is this note that makes it feel like a meal rather than a milk shake. I know it sounds strange but the mix really works well together. It is actually quite delicious.

Smoothie Box has really managed to get the mix right with this one. And what a mix it is. Let’s look at the ingredients list shall we?

Organic Bananas and Banana Puree, Organic Zucchini, Organic Kale, Cacao Chips, Organic Coconut Water, Organic Sunflower Seeds, Organic Coconut Cream, and Organic Cacao Nibs and Cacao Powder

Together the elements simply work. It tastes like a banana chocolate smoothie with a nutty back note, the vegetables only balancing it to remove some of the sweetness and make it feel more like a meal.

Well not only taking the sweetness. All of the elements are good for you and work towards making this a very nutritious meal. According to the ingredient break out:

Organic Bananas and Banana Puree: High in aspartic acid which helps every cell in the body work. It plays a role in hormone production and release and normal nervous system function.

Organic Zucchini: Zucchini is rich in vitamin B6. This vitamin can help with regulating blood glucose which plays a protective role against diabetes.

Organic Kale: Kale contains several antioxidants that help the body remove unwanted toxins that result from natural processes and environmental pressures.

Cacao Chips :To efficiently package ingredients we mix several ingredients together and then freeze them into a smoothie chip. This allows us to include beneficial ingredients like coconut cream, cacao nibs, and other fun ingredients.

Organic Coconut Water: High in electrolytes which are minerals that help your body carry out a variety of vital functions, such as hydration, muscle contractions, pH balance, and nerve signalling.

Organic Sunflower Seeds: Sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, magnesium, protein, and linoleic fatty acids which may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

Organic Coconut Cream: Rich in vitamin C, vitamin E and other B vitamins. These vitamins are good antioxidants which help fight free radicals and thereby reduce the risk of most major diseases.

Organic Cacao Nibs and Cacao Powder: Cacao in any form is exceptionally rich in antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Cacao has been linked to reduced heart disease and diabetes risk.

Smoothie Box

It is a well thought out mix that is quite honestly delicious. As there were five in my Smoothie Box Variety Pack, I am very much looking forward to having the other four come up in rotation.

Opening the Bell Lap Coffee Subscription

I am a big fan of coffee. Mornings and I are not friends so to get going , it is quite helpful. It is also something that was always a part of my life. While my mother is a big tea drinker, my father always went for the coffee. Growing up it permeated the air. It was there when I woke up and there when we had company. it was there after dinner as well. More than anything, it is the scent of home.

And good coffee is well worth the investment.

As you may recall I have a tendency to stroll through cratejoy and look at the various subscription services offered. When I came to the Bell Lap Coffee Subscription, I had to stop and take a look.

Bell Lap Coffee proudly curates premium coffee for loyal subscribers. Our wild grown coffee is artisan roasted fresh to order and shipped within 48 hours of roasting. All of our blends are sourced by hand from sustainable coffee farms. More coffee, less coffee, different coffee. you’re in control!

  • Discounted Pre-Paid Subscriptions – Great for gifting.
  • 7 subscription options to choose from (Choose 1 to 3 bags of coffee)
  • Customize based on roast profile and bean type
  • Ships monthly and bi-weekly

When you visit their website they will tell you what day they roast and even have a count down to the next roasting time. The cost is $12. 95 per bag. I went with the whole bean medium roast. Three days after their roast time, the bag was mailed out and arrived three days later. The mailer was a plain brown mailer and inside the only thing was the coffee. There was nothing extraneous. However as soon as the mailer was open, I could smell the coffee.

I couldn’t resist making a pot right away. I ground up the beans I needed and put the rest away in a storage jar specifically designed to keep coffee beans fresh. And as these were fresher than anything else I could get here, I wanted to keep them that way. The French press was used for this first brew as I always feel like I get more flavor that way. While I will doctor a cup from the Drip machine, I generally use the French press if I plan on drinking it black.

When brewed, the medium roast coffee has a slightly nutty flavor with light caramel undertones. It was quite delicious coffee. While I don’t think the beans are any better than any high quality coffee bean that you can get, they taste a great deal fresher. And that is well worth paying $12.95 for. Plus with each order you earn 20 points that you can put towards a purchase from their store. I didn’t see anything other than coffee for sale so I am going to save up my points to try out a different coffee, maybe an espresso or a darker roast. I think I will keep the medium roast for a while though. If you are looking to try out this subscription, then I would suggest going for the whole bean option rather than ground. The biggest benefit to this subscription is the freshness of the newly roasted beans. Once you ground the beans they start to loose their freshness pretty fast. which would negate part of the reason for getting the subscription in the first place. Because each month will be the same with this subscription, I don’t know if I will post it each month since it won’t really change (unless of course something does change) and you would no doubt get bored listening to the same thing repeatedly. But this is a subscription I plan to keep for a while. For me, Bell Lap Coffee gets two thumbs up and a coffee cup lifted high. And it makes me more interested in trying out new subscriptions. who knows what else I will find out there.

The Daily, February 9th, 2022

Ah Wednesday, the most panic inducing day of the week. It always hits me on Wednesday how much there is still left to do and how the week is already half over. This is the day where my to-do list grows longer, I get to my desk early, eat lunch at my desk and stay just a little bit later just because I feel that I won’t be able to get everything done before the week is out.

It doesn’t help that for some strange reason everyone calls me on Thursdays. Sometimes to change deadlines and others to add things to my list. And sometimes in just plain freak out mode. I suppose that is probably part of why Wednesday always feels heavy. If i deal with my freak outs today, I can deal with everyone else’s tomorrow.

It is on Wednesdays that I love the smoothies I have stashed in my freezer from Smoothie box. On days where I know lunch isn’t going have much time dedicated to it these are my favorite secret weapon. If you want to give them a try you can use code LOVESMOOTHIES for $15 off all products. They are great in a pinch lunches.

My make up today was also quick and easy to help with Wednesday time management. And so that I could plot my day while applying it and not worry over products too much.

Today’s Look:

Primer: Benefit Cosmetics Porefessional Primer

Foundation: QMS Medicosmetics Active Glow Tinted cream

Bronzer: Viseart Bronze Noix

Blush/Highlighter/eyeshadow: Doucce Posh Powders Palette

Powder: Ciate London Setting Powder

Mascara: Eyeko London Black Magic Mascara

Lips: Patrick Ta She’s Juicy Lip Mask

Today was simply quick and easy. I went for the Benefit Cosmetics primer because it always works well for me and because I wanted to put the mattifying primer under the QMS. it is a little brightening and I do like it better with something matte.

The viseart bronzer is really going to be one of my go-to bronzers when I am going for a more natural look. I love the way it can be built up for something more dramatic or it can be softened to go with a tinted day cream like the QMS. It was a good combo.

The Doucce palette was the experiment in today’s look. I really only use one blush and one highlighter but there are actually three pans of blush and three of highlighter so I decided to use one of the blushes that is too orange on my cheeks as eyeshadow and use one of the bright silver highlighters in the inner corner. It isn’t my favorite look but it came out pretty well and was quick and easy. It didn’t last terribly long though . while the blush stayed on the cheeks all day, when I use it on my eyes I need to remember to use a setting spray.

I do love how the faded look sort of lets the dramatic lashes kind of pop. I really do like this Black magic Mascara.

Since I was going low key, I just grabbed the lip mask from Patrick Ta and figured it would do as lip gloss today. Plus my lips were feeling a little on the dry side, so it made sense to me.

To be honest, I am actually quite pleased with my low key look. I think it worked well and while the eyeshadow use of the Doucce palette needs a setting spray to help it out, I like the fact that I can use more than two pans in the palette. Which makes it quite a win. Especially since I really like the one blush I do use. I think knowing this will make me reach for the palette more often.

And now my darlings it is back to work for me. I have a long to do list and not much left in the day to get through it. Wish me luck!

A few of my favorite things…

So often the focus is on the new and the different and the things I am trying out. I know, not surprising, this is a review site. But there are a few things that right now i use on a daily basis that I think deserve mentioning. At one time they were all things I tried out and now, they have become standards. So here are five products that I use day in and day out.

The first up has to be the Soda Stream. For a long time I used a plastic bottle for the Soda Stream. It was good, but after a time the plastic has to be replaced. So this past year I switched to the glass bottle for the Soda Stream. For those who don’t know, the Soda Stream is basically just away of getting carbonation into your water. It turns tap water sparkling. It’s called a Soda Stream because it lets you make your own soda at home. They sell all sorts of flavors. I like their flavors (lemon lime is my favorite) but honestly I use it to encourage myself to drink more water.

In general I find that carbonated water doesn’t sit as heavy in my stomach as regular water does. Occasionally i will add a lemon wedge or even a cucumber slice to the water, but for the most part I drink the water plain. And I’ve actually experimented with keeping tabs on my water consumption and found I drink almost twice as much water when it is carbonated than I d when it isn’t. So for me the Soda Stream is a valuable tool in keeping me hydrated.

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But if you are going to drink water, you need something to put it in don’t you? This is where item number two comes in. It is a stemless Champagne flute from the Rachel Zoe Collection. I love glassware. I do. I collect glasses of all kinds and I often have a real problem getting rid of class containers. Most end up repurposed to hold seedlings as I start my garden seeds indoors and then plant them outside. And I also like drinking my water out of a pretty glass as well. While I do use these glasses for cocktails (or mocktails) I use this one daily for my water. I like pouring it from the carafe into a pretty glass. It makes me feel as though the water itself is special and not like i am forcing myself to drink more water to stay hydrated. I love the rainbow sheen of the glass and the bubbles fizzing through it. I also love the way the glass feels in my hand. I think it elevates my water drinking and makes it feel almost decadent. And if you are trying to convince yourself to drink more water, why not make it feel decadent?

The next two items are always on my desk. Or at least within easy reach. The first of these are my ThinOptics reading glasses. They come in a variety of finishes, This set is the tortoise shell look. I like the look of them (although the black is stunning). I think part of why i like the tortoise shell is because when I was little we had a family friend who would always answer the crazy questions I would ask. He always had a good answer for everything and I thought he was the smartest person in the world. He wore tortoise shell glasses so even now when I wear them I feel like i am smarter.

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I know I’m not, just like I now know that some of the answers I got to my questions back then were made up (I still admire his ability to think fast though). But I still feel smarter. And my eyes have never been great. I wore glasses as a kid, switched to contacts as soon as it was an option and now need the reading glasses. These are thin and the case is actually clipped to the back of cell phone. The Thin Optics also don’t leave the nose dents in my makeup because they are so light. They are quite amazing and extremely useful.

Useful in a different way is the jar of peppermints. They are LifeSaver Peppermint candies. Occasionally throughout the day I will find myself wanting a snack. While I do have a snack most afternoons as it keeps me from over eating at dinnertime, I can’t snack all day. The problem is that I work from home so when I leave my desk I often have to pass through the kitchen to get anywhere. that means any snack foods left out are tempting. And let’s face it, the pantry and fridge are also tempting. It can spiral very easily. Having the peppermints on my desk not only gives me something low in calories to reach for if I feel like I want a snack even though I’m not hungry, it also gives me peppermint-y breath.

I know, my computer monitor doesn’t always appreciate the fresh breath, but the peppermint flavor helps prevent snacking. Most items that I would pick up from the kitchen quickly to snack on, taste weird with peppermint. It just isn’t a good mix. So if I put in a peppermint when I am craving something I can always tell myself, that I can think about a snack after the peppermint flavor fades. And by then I am usually in the middle of something else and have forgotten about the snack I didn’t really need in the first place.

And finally one of my current top five everyday items are my Tomahawk Shades. This particular set is my favorite. It just has that nice retro vibe to it. I actually have several pair of sunglasses from them. Not all of them look retro. And I do trade them out. What I love about them is that they are good quality sunglasses that I can pick up in a variety of styles without breaking the bank. I have seen a lot of fantastic sunglasses out there and there are several really expensive ones I tend to drool over. At the same time, I know me and sunglasses. With a new pair I will be very careful for the first few weeks. Then I’ll forget. I’ll shove them up into my hair or drop them in my purse without looking for a case. I’ll toss them into the passenger’s seat of my car if I am by myself. And then I’ll forget. They will end up scratched or even sat upon. I used to get one pair of sunglasses each spring and then I would be lucky if they made it through the year. If I made it to the next spring with only one scratch on the lens I was shocked.

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So I don’t spend a lot of money on sunglasses (or maybe i do if you look at the history instead of the pair) These sunglasses are not only good quality and inexpensive but they are durable. This retro looking one isn’t just my favorite because of looks but because the plastic is flexible instead of brittle. They have a bit of give to them. I’ve sat on them a couple of times at this point and routinely slide them into my purse without bothering with a case. Going into this spring they look just as good as they did last spring despite being my most worn pair of sunglasses. I actually don’t need to replace them this spring. I’ll probably still go on to the Tomahawk Shades Website to see what they have this year, but replacing them isn’t a requirement.

So there you have it mu darlings a few of the things I use on a daily basis, quietly working in the background as i go about trying out the new and the different. Somedays, it is good to acknowledge the fabulousness of everyday things.

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Happy Hour: Hot Chocolate and Butter Cookies

Good afternoon my darlings. I know there was no face mask this afternoon. The truth is I was too sniffily and sneezy to enjoy it. Today my is a day Vick’s Vapor Rub and hot showers that envelope me with enough steam that I feel human again. I thought about a mask but then sneezed four times in a row and decided a face mask might not be the best notion.

Likewise cocktails are being skipped. Admittedly there may be a dram of Peppermint schnapps added to my hot chocolate. The Hot chocolate, if you look closely is a dark chocolate. I generally find the milk chocolate varieties to be too sweet for me so I either go for dark chocolate or Mexican Chocolate.

The Danish butter Cookies are partially because I wasn’t in a place to bake up a treat, and partially because we are still working our way through a lot of the holiday stockpile. plus I really like butter cookies. So many cookies just go over the top. Sugar cookies have to be iced. other treats have to be decadent fudge-y chocolaty creations. Or at least dipped in chocolate. And sprinkles.

The Danish Butter cookies are a rich buttery flaky cookie that doesn’t need to tack on extra flavors. It is simple a good, rich, buttery cookie. I love the texture of it as it crumbles in the mouth and I love the taste. So tonight it is a perfect accompaniment to my my peppermint schnapps laced dark chocolate filled mug. It isn’t a fancy happy hour, but it sort of suits the night. With my cold and the wind howling, bringing ice and snow with it, tonight’s happy hour selection seems just about perfect.