Month: September 2013

Vegan pumpkin cranberry chocolate chip cookies! (recipe)

It’s not autumn without a healthy dose of pumpkin recipes! The other day Alyssa (who blogs over here) posted on Facebook that she was whipping up a batch of pumpkin cookies, and of course we all clamored for the recipe! It got me browsing around looking at different pumpkin cookie recipes, pumpkin drink recipes, and all other manner of pumpkin-flavored things in between.

Well, going back to the cookies: after looking at a few different recipes and tinkering with some vegan substitutions, here’s what I baked up today! These cookies are not only vegan, they’re easy to make and super-delicious.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or break up a vegan chocolate bar into small chunks)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the pumpkin and oil together in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and other dry ingredients, except for the chocolate chips and cranberries. Add to the larger bowl and blend well. Add in the chocolate chips and cranberries, using more or less to taste. (I like tons and tons in my cookies, but you might use less or even omit one or the other.)

Drop in even spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Makes two dozen cookies.

Sunday Confessions: awkward hugs

I haven’t linked up with Alyx for a while,and to be honest I don’t even have anything in particular to confess that might require this GIF…but it’s so awesomely awkward that I needed to find a use for it. I’m sure you can all understand that!

23 People Who Are Way More Awkward Than You

I mean really now…I totally understand Olivia’s pain here. I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of that awkward unwanted hug. I just get the impression that Zoe is laughing to herself while she watches and thinking, “Haha, she got you and not me!”

First impression: RocksBox

So last month, My Beauty Bunny posted a coupon code giving new members of RocksBox a free trial month. (You can find it here–I’m not sure if it still works, FYI). I initially didn’t think the subscription box sounded too interesting, but free is free and besides–I figured I could review the box for the blog. And now…I’m kind of regretting it, because (spoiler alert) I wasn’t thrilled with the box, and I really hate to write a Debbie Downer review, but…I guess there’s no way around it now!

If you don’t know what RocksBox is all about, it’s essentially a monthly jewelry rental service packaged as a subscription box. Read on for all the details, pictures of what I got, and my thoughts overall on the service.

Here’s how it works: Head over to the RocksBox website and fill out a style profile detailing things like your jewelry style, the pieces you prefer (earrings, necklaces, etc.), colors, and more. You can choose from three different plans that range from month to month ($19/month) or prepaid in six- or twelve-month sets ($17 and $15 per month, respectively). Each month you receive three pieces of jewelry that are yours to wear as much as you like for a sixty-day period; at the end of the period you return the pieces in the prepaid envelope included with your order and receive three new pieces. If you like a piece you can purchase it at 20% off the retail price. There are no preview or skip windows in this subscription.

What I got: This lovely ribbon-tied box with a ring, necklace and earrings enclosed. The first piece is the Dara Ring in Blue, from designer Dara Ettinger (retail price $110, member price $88). This was the piece I liked best out of the box; the raw stone design is very boho and the ring fit very comfortably (not always true of cocktail rings), but even so it didn’t really stand out as something I would buy…especially to the tune of nearly a hundred dollars.

The second piece is the Chevron Pendant Necklace in Gold from Urban Gem (retail price $38, member price $30.40). I have to just toss it out there: I don’t like chevron. Yes, I know–I’m probably the only blogger in the world who isn’t a fan. This necklace seemed too long on my torso (and keep in mind, I’m five foot eight when I’m practicing good posture), but it would be okay if layered with lots of other necklaces. I also felt that the chain was too thick for the design, which made it look and feel cheap. Overall I just didn’t really like this piece and in any case I know I could find something similar for $10 at the mall. Maybe if it was a different design, I would like it more.

The last item is a pair of earrings, which initially got me excited because I’m a bit of an earring junkie. These are the Trace Drop Earrings in Caribbean Blue from Angel Court (retail price $130, member price $104). This piece honestly just made me mad. There is just no way these earrings are worth the retail price. The design is okay and I might actually get some wear out of these, but the metal looks and feels cheap. I feel like I could find the same pair of earrings at Icing or H&M for a fraction of the price and with no drop in quality.

My final thoughts: Overall, I do appreciate the fast and free shipping and the ability to cancel anytime. If you’re a fashionista who wants trendy new pieces to wear each month, doesn’t wear the same thing more than a few times, and isn’t terribly picky about what you get, this could actually be a great box–the pieces work out to less than $7 apiece (depending on your plan), so it’s definitely a steal compared to buying new pieces each month and discarding them after only a few wearings.

Personally, though, I think I’m too picky for “surprise” boxes, and I tend to go for a few pieces each season that I love and will wear repeatedly versus lots of trendy pieces that I might only use once or twice. I would rather save my cash and just buy something I like that I’ll wear for years, rather than get a hit-and-miss trio of rental items in the mail.

I do have to say that I really, really take issue with the “value” of the box. RocksBox says that you’ll receive $200+ worth of designer jewelry to rent in each box, but based on my box I don’t feel the pieces are nearly worth their retail price. I have no problem paying a higher price for an item if I’m getting better quality or a more unique design but the items I received do not seem to be of any better quality than the pieces you could buy at cheap chic mall chains like Forever 21, Icing, H&M, etc.

In all fairness, I have seen some other boxes on other blogs that looked pretty neat and seemed to include nicer jewelry pieces, so I’m sure other people are loving this box. It’s just not something that I will continue to pay for, since I was just so underwhelmed. It wasn’t a terrible box by far–it was just incredibly “meh” for me.

Have you ever tried RocksBox? What did you think?

Product review: Perlier Volcanic Thermal Scrub

Disclosure: I received this product courtesy of iFabbo and Perlier for testing purposes. However I was note compensated for writing this review and as always all opinions are my own.

Product: Perlier Volcanic Thermal Scrub, $25 for 6.7 ounces. This product is sold through HSN (here).

Ingredients: AQUA (WATER), GLYCERIN, POLYETHYLENE, SODIUM POLYACRYLATE, PUMICE, SILICA, OLIVINE EXTRACT, PARFUM (FRAGRANCE), IMIDAZOLIDINYL UREA, METHYLCHLOROISOTHIAZOLINONE, METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE, BUTYLPHENYL METHYLPROPIONAL, HYDROXYISOHEXYL 3-CYCLOHEXENE CARBOXALDEHYDE, LINALOOL, HEXYL CINNAMAL, CI 42090 (BLUE 1). 

Ingredient notes: This product appears to be animal-friendly at a glance; however, note that the imidazolidinyl urea can be animal-derived, and it isn’t clear whether this particular product uses an animal-sourced or synthetic version. Also, ingredients like fragrance, linalool and dye can be irritating to the skin.  

I tried it: Or perhaps more accurately, I wanted to try it. I love scrubs and while I had some reservations about the strange, thick blue goo in the jar, I was really hoping for a good exfoliating experience. The suspension of this product is really weird–it’s like hair gel with pumice bits inside, if that makes sense. The gritty bits are of varying sizes and are supposed to provide a superior smoothing experience while also working with the thermal water to renew the skin.

But my testing attempts were firmly squashed by how harsh this scrub felt on my skin. To be fair, my skin tends to be sensitive and picky about what it will and won’t tolerate, but this felt way too harsh for my body. The scrub promises to leave skin “soft and velvety”, but I just stepped out of the shower feeling like I’d taken a sheet of sandpaper to my body. Way, way too harsh.

The other problem was that this scrub really irritated my skin. After I tried to use it, I ended up red and itchy, either from over-dryness or an irritating ingredient in the scrub.

I also have to mention that I have no way of knowing whether Perlier used synthetic alternatives to animal-derived ingredients in their products (they do say that they don’t test their products on animals). As I’ve mentioned off and on in my blog posts, this is my year of transitioning from a vegetarian to a vegan life, so I’m slowly weeding out beauty products that contain animal ingredients like beeswax, lanolin, etc. Since I can’t be 100% certain that this product is vegan-friendly, it isn’t something I would feel comfortable purchasing for myself in the future.

My final thoughts: I was so excited to test this, but what a letdown! I have heard from other bloggers that they loved it, so maybe it was just me? In any case, I sadly can’t recommend it.

Disclosure: I received this product courtesy of iFabbo and Perlier for testing purposes. However I was note compensated for writing this review and as always all opinions are my own.

  

Random Thursday: One bad habit I just can’t break

 

 I have lots of bad habits that I can’t break, but the one that probably causes me the most daily stress is my habit of hitting the snooze button over and over. I know that if I just got up a few minutes earlier, I’d have time for a little morning exercise, or a proper sit-down breakfast, or time to just sit and wake up with my coffee–any of which would probably make my whole day much less stressful. Instead I sleep until the last possible minute and then hit the ground running like a madwoman.

What’s the bad habit you can’t break? Tell me in the comments!

[CLOSED] GIVEAWAY: Wet n Wild Tough Girl eye shadow and nail polish collection

It’s hard to believe, but it’s true–we’re halfway through September already! Who authorized the days to fly by so quickly?! Not me, that’s for sure! LOL.

Well, since it’s a new month…I have a new giveaway for you guys! I was lucky enough to scoop up the full Wet n Wild Tough Girl limited edition eye shadow and nail polish collection. There are six shadow trios and six textured (yes, textured!) polishes in this collection. Scroll down for close-up shots of each.

Entry is simple: just leave a comment telling me which of these shadow.polish combos you’re loving the most! You can earn extra entries by following me and sharing the giveaway on social media, but please remember that if you do not complete the mandatory comment entry your extra entries will be invalid. Because of shipping restrictions on nail polish this giveaway is open to residents of the continental United States and Canada only. The giveaway will close at 11:59 PM PST on September 25th. Please read through the full giveaway rules (click “terms and conditions” on the bottom of the Rafflecopter widget) before entering! And good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Okay, on to the closeup shots of these lovely items. Each of the six shadow trios coordinates to one of the polishes. First we have a trio of rose and peach shades called Spoiled Army Brat, with a rose cream polish called Fatigue Glam.
Support Our Troops is a trio of black, grey and white shades and is paired with a grey cream polish called Tough Girl.

I Don’t Do Camouflage is a trio of blues with a bright cobalt blue cream polish called Left, Left, Left, Right, Left.

Soldiers in Charms, a trio of olives and greens, is easily my favorite of the bunch. Atten-Hut! is a shimmery olive polish.

Zero Dark Flirty (great naming, that) is a trio of rich purples paired with a slightly shimmery purple polish called Beauty Is A Battlefield.

Finally we have a trio of khakis and browns called Enlisting For Beauty, which actually comes with a bonus MegaProtein mascara (the mascara is not vegan, FYI). The shimmery champagne polish is called Femme Trouper.

Versatile Blogger Award :)

Well hello again :) I haven’t been the best poster this week, but I did want to get this post up before too much time went by. Miss Louise from Lilting Grace was sweet enough to nominate me for a Versatile Blogger Award, so here’s how it works:

  • Display the Award Certificate on your blog. 
  • Announce your win and thank the blogger who nominated you. 
  • Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award. 
  • Link your nominees in the post and let them know of their nomination with a comment. 
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So thank you to Louise for the nomination! It’s so hard for me to choose just a handful of bloggers for something like this, as I read hundreds of blogs and love so many, so I wanted to share a little bit about why I am nominating each of the bloggers below. I try to get through my whole Bloglovin’ feed daily but these are some of the blogs I always hit first. There are lots of other blogs that I also love, but I tried to stick to ones that are “versatile” in their content. I also didn’t quite get to fifteen, but I wanted to stick solely to blogs that I love. I will try to get around to leaving comments on them later this week, as I’m a bit behind on my commenting!


  1. Beauty Redefined by Pang. Two words: swatch heaven. And, um, lots of other useful reviews, FOTDs, and general beauty talk! I love that there’s a mix of skincare, cosmetic and nail products, plus a range from cheapie drugstore picks to slightly more high-end buys–perfect for someone like me who saves and splurges in equal measure. 
  2. Dancing Branflakes. Tiffany posts about everything under the sun–hiking, dance, food, clothes, family, and more. I love her writing style and her gorgeous photography. 
  3. Desert Girls Vintage. Rebecca and Lori have a truly versatile mix of fashion, home decor and more. I’ve lost track of all the Pinnable interiors I’ve found on their blog.
  4. Frannie Pantz. Robin posts fashion that’s accessible–outfits you can throw together on a budget and can wear without feeling like you’ve ventured too far into Fashion Week territory. But that is just half of it; the other half is that all of her posts have some kind of story, lifestyle angle, or other non-fashion related item in them. So you get a 2-for-1: OOTDs and something extra to read while you admire the outfit. 
  5. The Freckled Fox. Yay for a fellow Western blogger! Emily has an awesome mix of fashion, beauty, food, and the best darn hair tutorials in town. She just started a YouTube channel, so I’m hoping she’ll be putting some of those hair tutorials in video form. 
  6. The Good Girl. I found Celeste’s blog by reading Katrin’s blog (below). One day she’s posting Polyvore sets and another day she’s talking science. How can you not love that?
  7. Green Eyed Monster. I can’t remember how I found Jasmine’s blog, but I know that I’ve been reading it for a very long time now. She blogs about more serious stuff like proper skincare and then more fun stuff like NOTDs and book reviews.
  8. Land of Candy Canes. Excuse me while I go jump up and down for finally having a vegan friend to talk to about weird vegan stuff. Can you believe Katrin is the only vegan I know? Besides blogging about vegan stuff, she also blogs a lot about books, clothes, animals, TV and movies, music, and Germany. I really wish I could remember how on earth I stumbled into her blog, because it’s one of my favorites! 
  9. MakeUp Guinea Pig. Christine’s blog was one of the first cruelty-free beauty blogs I discovered back when I first started making the switch to cruelty-free cosmetics. At the time I didn’t know if cruelty-free beauty blogging was really a “thing” and to be honest I have no idea how I found her blog! But it’s still one of my favorites. She posts reviews of both drugstores and high-end brands, so there’s something for everyone. 
  10. Mandy Jean Chic. Besides being super-sweet and super-funny (love her videos), Mandy has an awesome assortment of beauty, fashion, home and lifestyle posts. Also, DIYs–she recently posted a DIY clutch video that I now want to replicate in about 72 different color combinations. :) 
  11. Sew Much To Say. One of the reasons I love Amanda Rose’s blog is because I never know what she’ll post–a sewing project? A recipe? A random lifestyle post? The other reason is because she just seems like a genuinely nice, sweet person that you could swap cake recipes with while crafting for a  huge party. 
  12. Sunny Tales and Happy Mail. Brittany has to be one of the most inspiring bloggers I follow–she is so positive and upbeat, and her blog is a mix of lifestyle musings, fashion posts, and more. When I’m having a funky day I always check to see if she’s got a new blog post, because I know there will be something there to uplift me and make me think.
     

So now I’m supposed to post seven random things about me. I have done so many “random facts” posts that I think I’m all out of new and interesting things to tell about myself! So I’m just going to skip this part. You don’t want to read through another list anyway, I’m sure you’d much rather visit the bloggers above :)

“This or that” beauty tag!

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all had a good weekend and are enjoying the transition into fall weather. The lovely Jannatul tagged me for a “this or that” beauty tag and since I’ve (somehow) never done one before, I thought I’d post it up for some Monday reading. :) I tag any of you who want to do this! Let me know if you do it so I can read your answers.

Face

Blush or bronzer? Blush. I’m pale and proud!

Lip gloss or lip stick? Typically lip stick, which is funny considering I used to hate it.

Eyeliner or mascara? I love both, but if I’m in a hurry and only have time for one makeup item, I choose mascara. It opens up my eyes and makes me look so much more awake.

Foundation or concealer? Concealer. I’m taking better care of my skin now, so I don’t need as much product to make it look okay.

Neutral or colored eye shadow? Neutral.

Pressed or loose eye shadow? Pressed–I make a mess with the loose sifters!

Brushes or sponges? Brushes.

Nails

OPI or China Glaze? China Glaze, since I believe OPI is not cruelty-free.

Long or short? The shorter, the better! I hate long nails on myself!

Acrylic or natural? Natural.

Bright or dark? Dark.

Flowers (or other designs) or no? No. I’m not big on nail art, sadly.

Body

Perfume or body splash? Perfume.

Lotion or body butter? Lotion.

Body wash or soap? Body wash. Soap melts :(

Lush or another brand? Bath and Body Works all the way!!

Fashion

Jeans or sweat pants? Jeans.

Long or short sleeves? Long–you can always roll them up if you get too warm, but I’m usually chilly!

Dress or skirt? Dress.

Stripes or plaids? Plaid. It’s very Scottish/Irish.

Scarves or hats? Scarves! I have a bit of an addiction.

Studs or dangling earrings? Dangling. I also have an earring addiction.

Necklace or bracelet? Bracelet. I honestly am not that keen on necklaces and I have no idea why.

Heels or flats? I love heels, but I also love being able to walk in comfort.

Cowboy boots or riding boots? Riding boots. I’m not a fan of pointy toes.

Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, or Marshalls? I love F21 but I have better luck size-wise at stores like Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.

Hair

Curly or straight? Straight, since it’s the least amount of work (my hair is naturally stick straight!). I do like waves, but they’re just a lot of work to achieve for my hair type.

Bun or ponytail? Bun. Quickest and easiest style for me.

Bobby pins or butterfly clips? I know those little plastic claw clips are supposed to be horrible and atrocious, but I hate trying to work with bobby pins! Luckily those little clips now come in colors to match your hair and they’re much easier to work into a bun and hide!

Hairspray or gel? Hairspray. Gel does nothing for me.

Long or short? Long!

Dark or light? Dark.

Side swept or full bangs? Side swept. My hair isn’t thick enough to support full bangs, sadly.

Up or down? Up. I like my hair loose but it gets in my way.

Random

Rain or shine? Rain! I love grey rainy weather. I love the sunshine too, but I really love the rain.

Summer or winter? Winter…even though I’m always cold. But in the winter you can curl up with tea, cats, and a good book!

Fall or spring? Fall. My favorite season :)

Chocolate or vanilla? Dark chocolate!!