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!