The Daily: August 15th, 2022

Happy Monday to everyone. I hope yours is going fabulously well. Today, when I woke, there were no watery eyes, not constantly running nose and only a minor cough. Which feels like a minor miracle. You know, when I feel well I don’t think about my health much. when I feel bad it seems like the only thing that matters.

Today I feel pretty good AND there was no rain so before the heat and humidity rose, I went out on a walk. It felt amazingly good to simply do what i normally do. I was able to go on a normal walk without feeling out of breath. Okay I was a little out of breath at the end so I am not going to try and push it with a second walk later this afternoon. I am just going to be pleased with 98% normality and not get over confident.

98% feels fantastic and made the entire day feel good. I hit Monday morning ready to go and I ticked items off of my to do list like no one’s business. well like my business actually, if you want to get technical. The point is, today worked and it felt good, really good.

simple and super fab salmon

Tonight we are having one of my favorite salmon meals. It is super quick and easy. I took two salmon filets marinated them in equal parts soy sauce and maple syrup and then sprinkled in a teaspoon of red pepper flakes on top. I put the marinade together at lunch time. It will sit until dinner and then I will pop it onto a sheet tray skin side up in the oven at 400 for about 10 minutes (or until it is the right doneness – that always varies based on the size and shape of the salmon.)While it is in the oven I will put the same marinade measurements mix into a sauce pan and add a dash of sesame seeds, let the sauce reduce and steam some broccoli. The sauce is fantastic on broccoli and as a little extra for the salmon. Simple and fabulous, especially now that my nose is cleared and I can both smell and taste again. That just makes the world a better place.

Today’s Look:

Primer: Tatcha The Silk Canvas

Foundation: Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation

Bronzer: Kim Chi Thailor Bronzer

Blush: Benefit Cosmetics Georgia blush

Powder: Tatcha Silk Powder

Eyeshadow: OFRA Signature Symphony Palette

Mascara: Give them Lala Beauty Mascara

Brows: iMethod Beauty Eyebrow Stencil Kit

Lips: Lawless Beauty Forget the Filler Lip Plumping gloss

Okay the Tatcha, both primer and powder were still out on the dressing table. I know i need to put them away and rotate through products but I just love them both. The same with the Benefit Blush. It was out, I know I loved it so I went ahead and used it.

The foundation is a bit of a throwback for me. I opened my drawer and saw a box in the back. I thought, what new foundation did I pick up and forget to try. it isn’t a new foundation. it is one of my favorite older foundations. For a long time this Becca foundation was my go to foundation. I used it pretty much exclusively. And I know I said that when Becca was going out of business I wasn’t going to stock up. But I was curious as to how low their last process would go and while I resisted most of the sale but in the last days of the closing up shop sale the foundation was on deep discount and i couldn’t resist.

So I bought a bottle and then put it into the drawer thinking I could use it when I finished testing out the foundation i was currently trying and that I would use it on days I wasn’t posting my makeup. It remained sealed. Since it won’t last forever, even sealed, I have opened it and will be rotating it through. I’ll try to use it more on the days I don’t post since the company is no more, but I still love the formula of this foundation. It is glowy without looking wet and it really just works for me. I won’t spend a lot of time talking about it when i wear it, but it is the one Becca product i truly loved and will miss.

I did have a couple of new items to try. The first was the OFRA palette. I loved the shadows today. I think I loved them more because I used a shadow formula last week that tyook effort for me to use. This took no effort. It blended well, it layered well and this is a formula that lasts all day. I am a fan of OFRA products. And this palette works. I am pleased to see that it is for sale and hasn’t gone away.

The mascara was the Give them Lala Beauty. I tried it once last week but my eyes were watering so I tried to forget about the test. I had to apply several coats to get it to look as I wanted and it does take a bit of time to dry. While I didn’t sneeze today a hard blink left lash marks that needed to be cleaned up. this is one of those mascaras where I feel I need a hand fan. I’ll be using it this week and see if I like it any better towards the end of the week. For now it is just so so.

And then there is Lawless Beauty. I like the gloss actually. It smells like watermelon and has that tingly feel. I need to do a side by side look to see if there was any plumping, but it feels good on the lips. It is sticky at first but After a few minutes of wear the stickiness goes away. It just looks like a beautiful gloss. I have the shade Rosy Outlook which is a pinkish clear that looks pretty good on my lips. Kind of my lips but better shade. I am curious about the plumping so I’ll have to take some close ups later this week to see if there is any noticeable change. But it is a nice gloss.

And there are the highlights of both my makeup and my day, my darlings. It has been a good day and I think my makeup turned out like I expected as well. Somedays, that is all that takes to make me happy. I know I should probably seek to aim higher than ‘lack of illness’ but for today, it just feels fabulous. Now I just have to work on cleaning and disinfecting every surface in the house. But I’ll worry about that after dinner. Have a great rest of your afternoon.

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Snacktime: Quest Cookies and Cream Protein Bar

That’s right today’s protein bar is aptly named Quest because that is exactly what I feel as though I have been on. It feels like a quest to find a protein bar I would actually like to eat. I know it seems like a strange quest to be on. There are many snacks that i can easily choose from. In fact I keep a variety of them in the pantry. Almonds, walnuts and peanuts. Mini sized bags of popcorn. Chomps meat Sticks and Righteous Felon Craft Beef Jerky and seasonal fruit are all available.

The thing is, I enjoy riding my bike and there is a group I ride with, most of whom it turns out are vegans. When I ride my bike I like to keep a simple portable snack, which for me the easiest is either Chomps or Righteous Felon, both of which I use when I am on my own. With the group I like to something a little more vegan friendly than a stick of meat. No one has any objections to what I eat, but I feel it is a bit more polite.

Hence my delving into protein bars recently. Many of them have not been my thing. For some it is textural. many protein bars seem to have the texture of playdoh which I simply do not find pleasant. A lot of them are overly sweet, or too dry and crumbly. And many of them seem to taste like a weird interpretation of uncooked cookie dough.

During my workday when i use an afternoon snack to help me control my dinner time portion size, I like to keep my snacks around 100 calories. When riding I am a little more flexible with the calorie count as I am in the process of refueling often during exercise.

This Cookies and Cream Quest Bar had 200 calories per bar. For the trail ride that is fine. At my desk I cut it in half. The bar is large enough that I am okay with cutting it in half. I can do so and still feel like I am getting a decent sized snack. As odd as it sounds, sometimes perception is everything. If I feel like cutting it in half gives me too small a portion it doesn’t matter what the calorie count says, i still feel like I’ve been cheated. This is large enough that I don’t feel cheated when i half it.

There is some of that playdoh texture on the outside, but I don’t mind it as much with the quest bars. Partially because it is a stiffer consistency and I can’t roll it up easily like a ball of playdoh and partially it is because there are solid pieces inside. The black pieces are the same texture and consistence of the chocolate wafer part of a sandwich cookie, like an Oreo. For all I know they could actually be cookie pieces added to it. They certainly have the right texture and taste. The white bit is not the same filling. It is sweet but it has a slightly aspartame kind of taste. It leaves an aftertaste like you get from a diet soda. While I can do without the aftertaste, I have to say this has been one of the best protein bars I have tried.

While I don’t think that i will ever be a huge fan of protein bars and I will probably not turn to them for my regular daily snacking, for an inoffensive eat on the trail snack, I would certainly pick this Quest Cookies and Cream Protein Bar up again. The flavor is good, there is enough textural difference between the components to make it feel like something it is okay to eat and not like you have taken the Playdoh food factory fun molds a little too literally, and it doesn’t crumble to dust as you bite into it. The only problem is that more than anything it does make me crave a big, cold glass of milk.

Snacktime: Broth Concentrate

This may seem like a strange snacktime post but I have to say that sometimes a warm cup of broth can be the best thing. A lot of my meal prep and planning go into making certain that I have healthy meals in a certain calorie level. I watch my proteins and my carbs as well when I am planning. This way I get the nutrients that i need and generally my food tastes pretty good.

However because the work week is so hectic and lunchtime so short, there is often a craving for something deeper. Here is where the concentrates really help out. A broth concentrate is basically a flavorful broth that has been boiled down to a gel like consistency.

You can buy them in boxes like this one pictured in a variety of flavors, including vegetarian ones). My personal favorite is the pho Chicken Broth Concentrate. There are not only a variety of flavors but a variety of brands. To be honest i really haven’t found that much difference in taste between the less and more expensive ones. This one happened to be on sale at the grocery store around the corner so I stocked up. I think typically the box sells for around $1.50 and contains four packets.

While I will for a dinner, dilute this into a stock pot and add all the delicious veg and noodles making it a full meal, I often find this is good as either a snack or a lunch time on the go. I take an insulated thermos and pour boiling water over the concentrate, stir and pop on the lid. I find my Teami mug perfect for this actually. It is made for tea but it works really well for broth.

Sipped slowly this broth feels far more filling than it actually is. One packet has only 25 calories. It feels like it should have at least a hundred more. It does have a high salt content so I do then to limit consumption to once a week at most and on the days when I drink it i tend to add several extra cups of water to my personal daily intake level.

For me soup has always had a comforting element to it. I think because the best soups seem to take all day to simmer. For me this is a way to get that comfort with out a lot of extra calories added to the day’s diet. It is also a good way to liven up a dinner that requires broth. While I always watch the salt content, for the occasional comforting snack or lunch break, this is a very good option to have on hand.



Snacktime: No Cow Protein Bar Lemon Meringue Pie

As I am sure i have mentioned before, snacktime is for me, one of the best ways to keep on track with my diet. A small snack around two in the afternoon really helps. I can convince myself to have a lighter lunch because I know I’m getting a little treat later in the afternoon and it keeps me from being too hungry at dinner time. My biggest dietary problem is portion control. I generally eat good foods and cook most of my meals at the house, I just some times eat bigger portions than I should. Snacks help me control my portions.

Part is because of the calories they impart, but part is psychological. I make sure that while the snack i choose has limited calories (I try not to go too far over a hundred) it is also something that is a tasty treat so that I feel like I’ve been bad, even when I haven’t.

With protein bars, you really have to watch the calories, for example this No Cow Lemon Meringue Pie Protein bar that I am trying today has 190 calories in it so I knew going in that I would only be eating half today and half tomorrow. In general I like to slice the bar in half and only talk half with me while the other half ends up in a zip top bag for the next day.

Now I am not a vegan and I am not a vegetarian. I do limit my meat intake to at most once a week (technically red meat we only eat maybe once a month at this point, but we eat fish once a week). My lunches are almost always vegetarian and at least three dinners a week are vegetarian. I love both cheese and charcuterie but i do limit them and make sure when i do indulge I go for higher quality.

The best way to get me to try anything is to make it lemon meringue pie flavored. To be honest I saw the bar in the rack at the grocery and thought “I’m low on snacks, oh Lemon Meringue Pie flavor, you shall be mine.” And then it ended up in the cart. When I put the groceries away i noticed the No Cow part and realized there was no dairy in them. Then I tried to recall if dairy was normal. Then I realized that in bar format I tend to go for the Nature Valley Oats and Honey granola bar which is of course not vegan because of the honey but has no dairy in it, but isn’t a protein bar either. Then I spiraled down a protein bar/dairy internet rabbit hole that I suggest you avoid.

The end result is that I love lemon meringue pie. It is my favorite desert and if you can give me something sweet and tart and reminiscent of that decadent dessert then I don’t care if it is vegan or not. So let’s take a look at the No Cow Protein Bar shall we?

According to the website it is…

Dairy Free, 22g Plant Protein, 1g Sugar, 18g Fiber, 190 Calories, Certified Gluten-Free and Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, Soy Free, Vegan, Made with pea and rice protein, stevia, and monk fruit, A perfect balance between tangy lemon and a slice of meringue pie. WE threw in some pea protein crisps for added texture too. Try not to salivate., Sweet as pie … high protein, low sugar pie. No Cow. No Bull. No Whey!™

No Cow

Taking the bar from the pack, it looks and feels like it is made with playdoh. It has the exact same texture as if I rolled a piece of playdoh in my hands to make a snake. it does have a pleasing lightly lemon/graham cracker scent to it which I thought was a good start. Biting into it is a bit like biting into a Fig Newton.

Does it taste of tangy lemon? Is it sweet as pie? No.

Chewing it it remains a fig newton like consistency but it tastes like sand. You know how when you go to the beach occasionally you get sand in your mouth? Delete the grittiness, but keep the taste. Add a slight hint of lemon, as though while you had a mouth full of sand a lemon went rolling by on the beach in front of you and you have the flavor of this bar.

To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Now I knew it wasn’t going to taste exactly like pie. I understand the low sugar aspect. But I figured the worst that would happen would be that it would taste just of lemons. I like lemon, so that wouldn’t be bad.

This was like a cruel joke.

Again, I may not be vegan but I have had plenty of yummy tasting vegan snacks. this simply wasn’t one of them. They should have at least been able to make it taste like lemon. Normally I like to look for the redeeming qualities in something, because most things do have them. I honestly can’t find the plus. It wasn’t good on any level.

Packing something with good for you things only works if you can make it taste good enough to eat. I couldn’t even get through the half that I earmarked for today’s snack. No Cow was a major disappointment.

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The Daily: June 16th, 2022

Good afternoon my darlings. Have you ever had a day where everything just chugs along as expected. No mishaps, no emergencies, no surprises? Just the day quietly moving along as planned? I know it is the sort of day that once it is passed will slip through the cracks in my memory and be forgotten in a haze, but to be honest it feels fabulous.

I think it has just been such a strange spring for me. Every time I turned around there was another large must deal with event coming down. There were some high points but there were some low points but it was a very spiky looking graph because there seemed to be no mid points.

The transmission on my vehicle started to slip and needed expensive repairs. I got a commission on a project I really wanted to work on. My brother died. I received an award. My heating and air conditioning unit needed to be replaced. One of my younger cousins had twins. One of my best friend’s father died. One of my cousin’s kid’s graduated with honors. A friend got married, two friends got divorced.

I’m sure there were a few more things in there. Some of them happened to me, some around me, but this was not a quiet spring. It was a season of emotional rollercoasters. It felt more like a cork had been popped out and everything just sort of spewed forth in one big gush. I think a lot of it might have been things that were delayed due to earlier lock downs and rescheduling issues and it just all happened to land at once. But it kind of makes me appreciate the solidly steady quiet days where things just go as intended.

Today, I watered, I worked out, I showered and dressed for the day, I worked, I had a a Smoothie Box smoothie (Orange – it was delicious) for lunch. I went back to work. Then I remembered I was going to marinade the salmon we were having for dinner (we just got a Vital Choice order, in fact because it came in around the same time as the Smoothie Box we are thinking of getting one of those small stand alone coolers Nothing large, but in the summer we eat a lot more fish so we order Vital Choice more often (plus there is a huge sale going on right now, I;ll link it below) so that it is on hand and my babydoll wants more room to stash his freeze pops. Yes those plastic tubes of colored sugar water and ice you freeze. He loves them and couldn’t find space in the freezer).

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The marinade is my favorite, equal parts maple syrup and soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, a couple of pinches of pepper flakes and that’s it. I put everything in a bag so it is easy to turn after two hours and I put the bag in a bowl in the fridge so if the bag springs a leak there won’t be sticky marinade in the fridge. We are having it with roasted green beans that have a dash of sesame oil and some sesame seeds on them. Beans are in season here so you can buy huge bags locally. I roast a whole pan and the left overs will get pureed and mixed with potato so so tomorrow we will have a sort of vegetable pancakes to go with our gochujang chicken.

Yup my biggest concern thus far was making sure I had a plan to use the leftover beans I know we will have.

Ah, normality, how I have missed you.

Today’s Look:

Primer: Sephora Smooth + Blur Primer

Foundation: Revolution Fast Base Foundation Stick

Bronzer: Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer

Blush: IBY Beauty Blush in Sun Kissed

Powder: Kim Chi Beauty Puff Puff Pass Setting Powder

Eyeshadow: Maybelline Color Tattoo cream shadow and Lottie London Metallic Pigment

Mascara: Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir (the link goes to Sephora for reference but it is out of stock everywhere and discontinued)

Lips: M2UNYC Matte Liquid Lip and TYS Lip Treat Lip Plumper

Today was an interesting mix of new and old, or maybe I should say established. I started with the trial size of primer that came in my Allure. It is one of those tubes that is mostly empty. I might be able to squeak two more uses out of it. It is from the Sephora line and I have to admit when I saw it in the Allure box I wasn’t thrilled, but I did think that if it was there then maybe it was there because it was really good. It is the sort of slippy silicone feeling primers. It works well. It isn’t fabulous but it is functional. It is the sort of thing that if i was placing a Sephora order and needed one more thing to push me over a spending limit, I might add. It is not something that I would look for or specifically go to buy. It is a $16 primer so it is more affordable, but honestly I think the Elf primers are $8 or $9 depending on where you get them and they are better. So if you were looking for an affordable primer I would go there before going to the Sephora line. It does a decent job, it just isn’t rave worthy.

The Revolution Fast Base foundation stick on the other hand is a standby summer favorite. I finished up a tube last summer and then when Revolution had a sale I restocked. This was my first use this summer and I do love this foundation stick. It doesn’t need to be warmed up, blends easily and I found my perfect match (F11 in case you are wondering). It is something that I can wear now and will be able to wear throughout the summer and into the fall when my tan fades. I generally end up using up a tube of this foundation every summer.

The Too Faced bronzer, is a regular use product, it tends to work better for me when I am more tan so it does get more use in the summer. and lets face it the compact is beautiful too so it is nice to play with.

The IBY blush I saw in the drawer this morning and could not honestly remember using. I opened it and it looked untouched. It also looked like a good shade for me. I’m guessing it came in a subscription over the winter and I thought ‘summer shade’ and put it to the side. It is a darker tone and for a first use it worked well. It isn’t highly pigmented but it beldns without disappearing which is nice. I’ll play around with it and see if I am going to add it to my summer makeup, but first use seems promising.

I like the Kim Chi Powder. It is a good quality and with the powder pudd I don’t need to use all that much which keeps it from looking powdery. I did notice if I used a brush then it could look powdery, so I always use the puff with this powder.

Because I wanted to play around with the metallic foil I just used the Maybelline to give me a little darker shade towards the edges. I really do love these color tattoo shadows. It took me a while to figure out how to work with them but in the end they turned out to be fantastic. I need to figure out how to get myself to reach for them more. It is an on going problem with the single shadows. I paired them down to the ones I really like, but I just need to figure out an organizational system that works. So it worked fantastically as always. The gold was the pone I was playing around with. It is the Lottie London. When I used a brush, there was fall out. when I used my finger there was less fall out but it was a bit messy because my finger was just too large. Today I soaked a cotton swab with Setting Spray (Benefit Cosmetics Super Setter) and it was perfect. It had the rounded tip of the finger and the dampness locked in the powder so there was no fall out but it had the maneuverability of a shadow brush. I now want to try this with all of my loose pigments. I don’t know why I didn’t try it before. It was a fantastic solution and thus far I have had zero fall out.

Even though Marc Jacobs Beauty is no more, I found an unopened back up of the Velvet noir and decided to use it. I’ll try to use it more on the days when I don’t post a daily so that I am using products available to purchase if you find them appealing (I hate when I see something I like only to find it no longer exists). this was my favorite mascara for a long time, but Marc Jacobs Beauty has closed. Also I saw an article about Revlon closing too. Which I admit stunned me more than Marc Jacobs.

Revlon is declaring bankruptcy. That seems almost unfathomable.

So we end with lips. I chose the M@UNYC because I like it, it is matte and it dries fairly quickly. I wanted to try the lip plumper over it. The TYS doesn’t have a huge amount of plumping that I can see (but it does tingle a lot) and it has the same effect over lipstick as it did on bare lips. Which was what i was testing today. And it worked.

And so that is me. I was a bit long winded today, maybe with everything seeming calmer I just felt like chatting. I hope you don’t mind. I am tickled my cotton swab idea panned out and I will be trying it elsewhere. I am also thrilled I thought up an advance plan for the left over green beans. I know, not buckets of excitement, but today, that is an amazing thing. Have a great rest of your afternoon.

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Snacktime: Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Kind Bar

In my grocery store I have passed the rack of Kind bars quite often and to be honest they just looked like candy bars so I didn’t pick them up. While I am fond of the occasional sweet, they are not my go to when I go for snacks. I tend to go for savory. I pick up pretzels or nuts or cheese when I need a special treat.

And to be honest most snack bars of this sort are too sweet for me. However I was drawn in by the name. Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew. I love Cashews and will happily take down more cherries in one sitting then I really should. And when I go for chocolate, I do tend to lean towards the darker varieties. In addition I stopped by the rack looking for a snack and saw that most of them had some sort of cookie dough flavor.

the bar

Don’t get me wrong, I like cookie dough in itself. I am not a fan of cookie dough flavored things as they are almost always too sweet for me. So the Kind Bar stood out even more as it was not cookie dough flavored.

The bar has 170 calories which is a bit much for me. I generally try not to go over a hundred with my afternoon snack. Occasionally I will push it to 130 but 170 is pretty high. However once in a while I can indulge.

The Kind bar has a chewy texture with enough crunch from the nuts to make it satisfying to bite into. The chocolate is sweet but it has the dark chocolate bite to it that I really enjoy and the cherries are more tart than sweet, almost to the point of cranberry tartness but not quite.

cross section

It was a rather enjoyable snack. In fact it was everything I hoped for when I read the label. However for me, it was too large. I would have been more satisfied with a bar half the size. It was simply too much for me in one sitting. However when I went to the website I saw that they do sell boxes of mini kind bars. From the package on the screen it looked like they sold this bar in a version that was about half the size.

While this was delicious, in this size i would probably not buy it again. It is simply too much of a good thing, However I would happily purchase this dark chocolate cherry cashew bar in a half sized version. I think that would be just enough sweet, just enough afternoon energy and just the right amount of calories for me to feel comfortable with this as an afternoon snack.

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Snacktime: Modern Mill

I know what you are thinking. That is a salad topper, not a snack. I know, but stick with me. The Modern Mill Salad toppers are a line that is carried at most grocery stores, at least the ones near me. There are a bunch of different varieties. This particular one is my favorite. It has edamame, cranberries, cashews and sunflower seeds.

Now here’s the thing. As a salad topper, I am not a fan of this. I’ve tried most of the line and while I purchase them, rarely do any of them make it onto my salad. I think it is a bit too heavy for a salad topping. The cashews are whole and over all this mix tends to dominate whatever salad it is put on. There are also just too many things going on with it. It’s like they pack one too many ingredients into the mix for me to feel happy with it on my salad.

However, as much as I am not a fan of this on my salad, I love it as a mid afternoon snack.

With the whole cashews, sunflower seeds and edamame adding salty nutty crunch and the cranberries adding a tart fruity note, it is actually a really good snack. Very well balanced and really enjoyable. Especially on those days where you just want something to crunch into.

One fourth of a cup is 140 calories so it is a snack for a day when you are going the extra mile with your work out, not for one where the most activity you are getting is chasing a paperclip that some how shot across the room. However there is no filler. The ingredients are really edamame, sunflower seeds, cranberries and cashews. It has 11% of your fiber and 7 grams of protein.

While this isn’t something I enjoy on my salad, I love keeping this in my pantry for a protean packed pick me up. It is well worth having on hand. Just remember that it is very easy to go over board with it, so measure it out instead of simply eating from the bag. I love measuring it out into a small container and taking it with me on bike rides or to snack on between meetings. It is also a good reminder that just because a product is designed for one thing, doesn’t mean it can’t be fabulous for something else.

The Daily: April 20th, 2022

Good afternoon my darlings, I hope you are having a fantastic Wednesday. Mine is off to a slow start. I made the mistake of having my coffee out on the back porch. Today was significantly warmer than it had been and this morning the back porch where the sun is captured was fa fantastic spot to just sit and sip my first cup of the morning. And my second. And part of a third before I convinced myself to go back inside. I did work on my lap top so it wasn’t just idling, but I have to admit, it wasn’t me at my most productive.

we are entering the season where for a few short weeks, barring rain storms, I can spend as much time as I want on the back porch with no issues. After those few weeks the temps will rise and my time will shorten until spending any time out there while the sun is out will be a misery. Then it will be lovely in the evenings. Gradually the summer will progress and even if I went out at midnight it will be too warm to enjoy. My back porch will then be ignored until the temps start to drop and then it will be a reverse. I will slowly start enjoying evenings, lead into spending time out on the porch and once I am accustomed to taking my coffee to the porch in the morning, winter will arrive and it will grow too cold to use again.

It’s a cycle.

I do like taking my coffee out there, even if it does cut down on my productivity. I’ll just work a little later tonight to make up for it.

The ToKit Omni Cook

Oh before I forget I have a discount code to share with you. From April 18th through May 31st, you can get $50 off the ToKit Omni Cook site with the code AMB_50OFF at checkout.

Have you seen these ToKits? I have been obsessed with them since I first saw them. It is pictured to the side. As a reward to myself for sticking with my diet and exercise plan every week I remain focused I get to put just a little bit of money aside so I can purchase one. If you haven’t seen one of these in action I highly recommend just going on the site to watch the videos. If you like to cook but don’t have a lot of space this looks like it would be a fantastic option. At the moment one of the reason I am posting the Kitchen Kit posts is that I am trying to slim down my kitchen gear to just what works and what I like using. Kind of like a declutter for the kitchen. that will soon change over to just an In the Kitchen Segment as I try new recipes. But that is another tale. And a long way to go to say that I find the Omni Cook from ToKit fascinating, and that they have a discount code.

Shall we move onto today’s look? I think we should.

Today’s Look:

Pre makeup Base: Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre

Primer: Tatcha Silk Canvas Primer

Foundation: Yensa BC Full Coverage Foundation

Bronzer: Trestique Bronzer Stick

Blush/Highlight: Natasha Denona Cupid Cheek Duo

Powder: KimChi Puff Puff Pass Set and Bake Powder

Eyeshadow: Sandbar The Mirage Palette

mascara: ABH Lash Brag Mascara

Lips: M2U NYC Matte Liquid Lip in Soho

Today we have a fairly neutral look. I used a lot of products I absolutely love, mostly so that I could play around with the new products. The Embryolisse is a standard now and I pretty much use it before any makeup now as that extra layer of plumping moisture just makes everything work better and last longer.

I love everything about the Tatcha Silk Canvas primer. It is one of the only products I have ever tried that is actually worth the mega hype it received when it first came out.

The Yensa Foundation is still under trial but i have to say as this is the last day of the trial, I absolutely love it. My full review will be up tomorrow, but I am already putting it on my must replace list. This skin on skin formula just melts into the skin and feels weightless all day.

Do I need to tell you how much i love this Trestique Bronzing stick? While I don’t like everything from the brand, this bronzing stick and the lip crayons are must have products and now that this bronzer is refillable I will be refilling it as soon as it runs out.

This is the second use for the Cupid Duo by Natasha Denona. the blush performed well. It applies darker than it looks on the fingertip but blends beautifully. It was the highlighter that I had issues with yesterday and again today. I usually apply highlighter with a finger, but when I tried with this it simply disappeared. I think I might have blended too much or it simply liked my finger more than my cheek. Today I used a brush. It worked better but still has a tendency to blend out to nothing. I’ll be playing with it to see if I can get it to perform better. I suspect I will reach for this duo when I want to use this blush and then just use the highlighter because it is there. But time will tell.

Today was the first use of the KimChi setting powder. It is translucent but it does have a slight tint to it. Personally I like this as it means it isn’t a splotch of white on the skin when applied. I needed very little to set my makeup and it worked beautifully for this first use. AS I am now adding sunscreen to my face at the end of my skincare application each day, my skin can look a little shiny. which happens every summer. A good setting powder can take off that added shine without making me look powdery and cakey and this far this is working well for that. it will be interesting to see how it works as the temps rise. But for a first use, I am happy.

Today was also the first use of the Sandbar eyeshadow palette, Mirage. This is a very neutral palette but it looks like it would be great for everyday use. Today I went with one matte and one shimmer to see how they performed. I might have gone a little over board with the gold. The matte had a bit of fall out but it wasn’t too bad. The gold I thought I only put a little bit of in the center of the lid, but then I blended with a finger tip and it turns out I put on a lot more than I thought I did. So that is something I will have to work on as I proceed. Over all I think that this is going to be a fun neutrals palette to play with. I’ll be using it for the rest of the week and into next to see how it performs. with luck I’ll reign in the gold shimmer.

The ABH mascara isn’t new to me. I like the volumizing of it. There are two things to watch out for. The first is that it takes a little longer to dry than a lot of other formulas so you need to give it a minute to dry down. Until it is dry it will smudge like crazy. This is not the mascara you want to sneeze with when applying. The second thing to watch out for is length of time. Eight hours is fine but if you wear it too much longer (maybe 12 hours) it will flake a bit. I can either wear this during the day for a work day or I can use it to spruce up my lashes post work day for a night out. Beyond that it is a great mascara (and those are both easy to deal with issues).

The M2UNYC matte liquid Lip is not new either but it is fabulous and every time I use it I think that I need this formula in many shades. It dries down so that it stops leaving lip prints everywhere and locks in place but it doesn’t dry down enough to leave my lips feeling like they have been left alone in the desert for too long. It is an amazingly good formula and it is not that expensive. A full size is only $8. Which is a steal for the formula. (and no I am not an affiliate, although i wouldn’t mind being, I just really like the formula).

And that is me today. Overall I am pleased with the fairly neutral look today. I also have a conference call later so it is work appropriate as well. Until then though, I have to make up some time form my slow morning with the coffee. I’ll have to skip the porch tomorrow and Friday though and just let myself enjoy it on Saturday morning instead. Since it is a chores at home sort of weekend coming up I won’t mind the slow start then. But for now, it is time to buckle down at the desk. Have a great Wednesday!

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.

Snacktime: Super Smoothie Berry from Smoothie Box

Smoothie Box very kindly sent me their monthly smoothie box for the purpose of review. The full subscription review you can find here. As I make my way through the box I am reviewing the individual smoothie types in the box. I received the Variety pack and it contained four separate flavors. This Super Smoothie Berry flavor is number three.

With these smoothies, each pack contains two portions. In general I will always make both portions at the same time, however if I am using it as a snack instead of as a meal, I will only eat half and save the other half for the next afternoon. I still mix them at the same time, then split them, put the unused half in the freezer and then the next morning transfer the un consumed half from the freezer to the fridge. By the time I am ready for my afternoon snack it has the right consistency again. It is super easy and something that really helps me out on days that I know are going to be jam packed.

This smoothie has the lowest calorie count of the smoothies I have tried from the brand. It has 90 calories per serving. For me this was an interesting one. I generally find that if my smoothies are too sweet, my brain thinks of them as a desert and I don’t really feel like I’ve had a lunch. It will feel like a snack rather than a meal and then no matter how many calories are in the mix I will still feel like i should eat something.

If I am using it as a snack then I am fine with the sweeter varieties. Thus far it hasn’t been a problem with the Smoothie Box Smoothies. They have had enough savory elements that I think of them as a meal. With this Berry Smoothie I mixed it up with Almond Milk (one of the recommended liquids). It was absolutely delicious. The issue was that it tasted like a fabulous berry flavored milkshake.

I think part of it is that I always find almond milk to be a little on the sweet side. Once I tasted it, I knew it would be too sweet to serve as a meal, so I went ahead and divided it into two and froze half. I’ll have the other half as a snack tomorrow afternoon.

It was absolutely delicious I just can’t think of something that sweet as a meal. which is my own personal preference. As a snack though, it felt completely indulgent. I found myself double checking the calories. (90 x2 + 60 for a cup and a half of almond milk = 240 for the shake, split in half is 120 cal). It felt like it should have been a lot more. And because it felt like a lot more, I did a little extra in my work out telling myself “Think about that milkshake you had as a snack”. which helped me out in other ways.

I think if I were to use this as a lunch, I would use skim milk and possibly throw a knob of ginger into the mix to make it a bit more savory. However that being said, I am okay with having one variety of these smoothies be designated as snack smoothies rather than lunch time meals. That may just be it’s lane. either way i was delighted with the taste and am looking forward to indulging in the rest of the Super Smoothie Berry bags from the pack.