11/19/17

2017 Christmas Gift Guide: Under $50



It's that time of year again! It might still be November, but it's definitely holiday time and if you haven't started thinking about what you want to give those on your list for Christmas, it might be time to start! Like in years past, I've put together a series of gift guides to hopefully take some of the stress away and help you find some great gifts to give your loved ones. The guides are separated into two parts- with gifts under $25 and gifts under $50. None of these guides are sponsored, and I've genuinely chosen these gifts on my own accord. Happy gift giving!





1. The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs - $40 - I can't write a gift guide this year and not mention The Sims 4: Cats and Dogs. This game is amazing. I've had some more time to play since I teamed up with my sister to write our first impressions and it continues to blow me away. There's just so much you can do with this game and anyone who enjoys The Sims needs to have this in there life. Hell, even if they don't - they need this game - trust me. It's 100% worth it!


11/15/17

Wet & Wild Luxe Brush Collection - Review

I'm not a makeup pro by any means, but I do enjoy playing around. I love trying out new products, and even when I'm not feeling well (often tbh), I enjoy putting on some makeup - I find that especially when I'm feeling like crud, doing so can cheer me up a bit and make me feel somewhat more human.




That being said, I really don't have many brushes. The fanciest brush I own is my MAC 217 that I've owned for years and years (and have used to death). Besides that, I probably own about six brushes total and I'd love to say that I clean than regularly, but let's be real... I don't. Unless you count wiping them on a tissue as cleaning. It's bad, I know.

So when I saw this set from Wet n Wild talked about on Social Media I was definitely intrigued. Especially knowing that it was only $15 on sale this week. I've been a fan of most Wet n Wild products that I've tried in the past so I was curious to give their brushes a try. At $15 for a set of 10 brushes, you definitely can't go wrong.


11/13/17

2017 Christmas Gift Guide: 15 Gifts Under $25



It's that time of year again! It might still be November, but it's definitely holiday time and if you haven't started thinking about what you want to give those on your list for Christmas, it might be time to start! Like in years past, I've put together a series of gift guides to hopefully take some of the stress away and help you find some great gifts to give your loved ones. The guides are separated into two parts - with gifts under $25 and gifts under $50. None of these guides are sponsored, and I've genuinely chosen these gifts on my own accord. Happy gift giving!


1. Wet & Wild Luxe Brush Collection - $15 - Now I WISH that I had been sent this to include in this gift guide, because I think it's not only stunning, but a really great value. You're getting a great selection of cruelty free brushes that will not only get the job done, but look great doing so, all at an affordable price. I mean, there are plenty of companies out there where $15 wouldn't even get you one brush let alone 10! Jump on this if you have a beauty lover to gift to!


11/11/17

The Sims 4 Cats and Dogs - Comprehensive First Impressions

House #2. The first house I made was HUGE & took forever,  but unfortunately got remodeled a lot and isn't picture ready. ;) 


I've definitely talked about The Sims here on the blog before. I've even done a review or two in the past (head on over to the search bar to find them if you fancy). So it's certainly no secret that I'm a huge Sims obsessive. The Sims 4 doesn't even compare to past versions of the franchise. It's a million times better. Sure, there are aspects of older versions that I miss - the ability to have platforms so you could have (easier) recessed or raised rooms for example. ;) But overall, The Sims 4 blows the others out of the water. 

But now... now, they've come out with the expansion I've really been waiting for: Cats and Dogs. Oh my goodness, I've wanted this for years!! I'm a huge dog lover and have three labradors at home, so it always felt weird to have no animals in my sim houses. This new expansion came out this past Friday (November 10th), and I've spent a good deal of time playing around with it. My love for the Sims actually comes from my sister who first started playing the game a long, long time ago. I got hooked with the very first version, and we've both been playing ever since. So, it made sense that she'd join me in putting together a thorough review of The Sims 4 - Cats and Dogs. We've put together our thoughts for a mega review of the new game, but you can easily tell our thoughts apart as I've divided them by name. 


11/6/17

Superior Donuts is the Sitcom We All Need {Review}


I wrote about Superior Donuts last year when it made its debut. I admitted that I had my apprehensions about the show when it began, but that I quickly became a fan. I can confidently say that season two is off to a great start and that I'm still just as much a fan.


10/30/17

October 2017 Monthly Favorites

October is over which means that before we know it, Christmas will be everywhere (okay, it already sort of is..). I don't really mind it too much because as much as I love Halloween and Fall in general, I also really, really, love Christmas. This time of year is special and comforting, even if it's a bit stressful. I didn't post a favorites for September because I didn't really feel like I had enough to talk about. This month I don't have too much either, but there are a few things that I really wanted to share with you.





La Roche Posay Toleriane Face Wash Cleanser for Sensitive Skin - I've been slowly working on revamping my skincare routine. I've just been generally unhappy with the state of my skin (dull, dry, red, slightly irritated, hormonal breakouts, pores...the whole bit), and I'm on a mission to try and get a proper routine down that works for me. I figured it was best to start with a cleanser and I am absolutely loving this one from La Roche Posay. It's creamy and moisturizing while still being a cleanser that actually does a good job and works. It doesn't have a strong smell (I personally don't notice a smell at all), and it doesn't dry out my skin. I think it's also a really good value for the money! I've been using this nearly every day - sometimes as part of a double cleanse and it hasn't pissed off my skin so it's definitely a winner!


10/22/17

Whole Wheat Oat Chocolate Chip Fiber Cookies



Lately I've been feeling like all food hates me and I've been trying to be more mindful about what I eat, which isn't always fun if you like cooking and food in general. But I've been doing my best to avoid some of the things that I think have been irritating my body more than others and I *think* its been helping.


10/21/17

10 Classic Must Watch Halloween Films

Today we're doing things a little bit different with a guest post from my sister Melissa. She's a Radio DJ and Halloween obsessive so she's put together a list of her top ten must watch halloween movies. Trust me - she's an expert on the subject!! Be sure to follow her on Twitter!!

October has come and gone faster than a witch’s broom. Which, if you’re like me can make you feel excited for Halloween and sad that month is almost over. Halloween is my favorite time of year - what better time to express your creative-side and decorate while shamelessly eating candy? Sure retail may allow that other holly jolly time of year to creep in earlier each year, but this witchy woman wants to get her tricks and her (chocolate) treats just a wee bit longer. Since Halloween is nearly upon us, here are ten movies perfect to put a spell on you this October 31st!




  1. Hocus Pocus
This is the absolute quintessential Halloween film. Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker team up in this Disney icon starring as the Sanderson Sisters of Salem, Massachusetts as a new student makes havoc and resurrects the witches on Halloween night. The film also features NCIS star Sean Murray! #Nerd -The film blends comedy, song, and all the things that make Halloween our favorite holiday. If you haven’t seen this Disney film, it will leave you spellbound!


10/16/17

Lush Christmas Haul 2017

It's October. I know. But when I walked into Lush today, and saw that Christmas stuff was already on the shelves, I honestly couldn't help myself. I am a huge huge huge fall lover. I'm not looking to rush Christmas - in my mind, it's fall until Thanksgiving and then we can go full Christmas (that is not by any means an endorsement of Black Friday though - trust me). Anyways, when I saw the Christmas goodies I just had to pick them up because usually I end up missing out on some of the items I had my eye on so I figured there was no time like the present (ha, see what I did there??)






 Sleepy Body Lotion - $9.95
The first thing I'm going to talk about isn't actually a holiday item but it was one I had heard about from Amy Lynn Thompson and I'm a fan of anything relaxing that might help me get some zzz's at night, so I had to pick this up. I tried it on in store because I'm actually pretty picky about lotions and hate the kind that just make me feel sticky or greasy. This one didn't - I defintiely felt like it was there, but it wasn't too heavy or tacky. Since I bought it with the intention of keeping it on my bedside table, it's okay if it's a bit thicker. I grabbed the smaller size since this is my first try of this product but the smell alone is giving me high hopes! 


10/15/17

Easy Thirty Minute Bacon Ranch Potatoes



Potatoes. Boil em', mash em', stick em' in a stew... (points for understanding the reference!). I honestly really, really, love potatoes. I will eat them in pretty much, ALL their forms. I'm no stranger to roasting potatoes but I decided to try doing something a little bit different this time.


10/14/17

Witchy Woman: Halloween Nails



I'm going to be honest. I haven't been doing my nails all that often lately. I often have every intention of sitting down and giving myself a manicure but unfortunately whenever I do, my hands cramp up and I just can't bare it. But it's fall - it's October - and dammit, I want to paint my nails and be festive! So today I said screw it and I just did my best and I'm glad that I did. Sometimes it's the the little victories...


10/9/17

Sunday Screen: Madam Secretary Premiere & NCIS: LA

I'm just going to jump right into it - Sunday shows this week were really great. There were only two on my radar (I tried giving Wisdom of the Crowd a shot and I just couldn't get into it - I do look forward to Elementary returning though!), but given that Sunday shows are generally hour length shows, it works for me. *SPOILERS AHEAD!*


Source: CBS


10/4/17

Is This The End of NCIS? Pauly Perrette leaving show after Season 15!


Source: CBS

When Cote De Pablo left NCIS, the fans were shook. We had fallen in love with Ziva David and we weren't the only ones. Not long after De Pablo's exit, we said goodbye to Michael Weatherly. The departure of Tony DiNozzo, who wasn't just Ziva's lover, but also a integral partner to McGee, and the rest of the cast, was NOT an easy pill to swallow. To make matters worse, we have to now see him following NCIS every Tuesday and it feels like some sort of scheduled visitation (sorry, I don't watch BULL).

10/2/17

Sephora Wish List: Holiday 2017

It's Monday, which means that I'm definitely procrastinating. I don't know why, but I seriously struggle to get going on a Monday! I *have* started a nice vat of soup though, and while that's simmering, I've been browsing the internet and came across the new holiday sets on Sephora's website. Holy moly, there are some really pretty goodies this year. I've compiled my wish list full of everything I've got my eye on below!



Ouai To Go Kit - $25  

I've wanted to try out Ouai as they're a brand that I've really been hearing a lot of buzz about. This little kit might be a good way to try out a few of their products, without committing to full sizes.


9/29/17

This Week In TV {Premiere Week}


 Source: ABC


Well, here we are: it's Friday and the week in TV (at least for me) has come to an end. Since I don't watch anything new on Friday's I figure it's a perfect day to look back on the week of television and rehash what was good (and bad). PS - There are SPOILERS below!


9/25/17

Young Sheldon {Review}


 Source: CBS

Let me premise this review by saying that while I am a fan of The Big Bang Theory, I was honestly pretty skeptic about Young Sheldon, so I tried my best to go into the series premiere with an open mind.


Season Premieres: Monday Night Shows

It's no secret that I'm a TV junkie, and for me, today is the day that my shows start back up again. I watched a lot of MSNBC in the off-time and as much as I love staying informed and watching my favorites, I'm looking forward to the escapism and the break from reality. Oh, how I need it!!

I thought I'd put together a quick post on the shows that I've got my eyes on tonight - both new and old. You can keep your eyes peeled for more television posts as the premiere weeks progress. Whether you like it or not. ;)

Monday Night Television - Season Premieres - CBS: 


Tonight all the shows I'm watching are on CBS. They seem to be the network that carries the most of what I watch, both new content and shows I've been watching for years. They're also the ones that have cancelled most of what I've watched over the past few years (Person of Interest, The Good Wife, MIKE & MOLLY, 2 Broke Girls, etc......), so I guess it's a complicated relationship!


 Source: CBS

The Big Bang Theory - So many people seem to hate TBBT. I don't. I have been watching it for years and I really enjoy it. It's nerdy, funny, light-hearted and just plain cozy to watch. Mayim is absolutely my favorite (if you're not watching her on YouTube, you really should be!).  Unfortunately I am a bit behind because every year CBS starts it off on Monday's (can watch), and then moves it to Thursday when Grey's Anatomy is on so I generally miss about half a season. Usually I catch up in the off-season, but this year I never got to it. I'll still be watching the season premiere tonight though! We've gotta see if Amy says yes to Sheldon!! Premiere: September 25th, @ 8pm EST. 

Young Sheldon - Okay so while I *am* a fan of The Big Bang Theory, I am so very very unsure about Young Sheldon. I honestly sort of hate the idea of it. I don't really want to focus on the backstory of Sheldon, I'd much rather move forward with the cast. But, since it's on right after TBBT, and I love Jim Parsons (disappointed that Laurie Metcalf isn't playing the mother) and want to support him, I will certainly watch the premiere. Perhaps there will be a review here later - let me know if you'd like me to do one. Premiere: September 25th, @ 8:30pm EST. 


 Source: CBS

Kevin Can Wait - Oh boy, what to say here. I watched the first season and I really like Kevin James (King of Queens is one of my favorite sitcoms). It was fun to see Leah Remini on as a guest star last season, but now she's coming on full time (again, King of Queens is one of my favorite sitcoms...), and they're KILLING OFF DONNA!! Kevin's wife Donna (played by Erinn Hayes), is being killed off and Leah Remini is taking over essentially. I'm so anxious to see how this plays out. The idea really makes me uneasy. I'm unsure if it will work but dammit I love these two together so I will certainly watch to see how it goes. The synopsis for tonight's premiere also says that Chale is about to be deported, which I totally, completely, 100% would not mind. #sorrynotsorry!  Premiere: September 25th, @ 9pm EST. 

Me, Myself and I - this is another show that I'm pretty unsure about. Bobby Moynihan stars in the show (why oh why did he leave SNL?!?! ), and the premise is that the show looks at his life from different stages. I'm a bit confused by it and honestly skeptical about its success. But hey, I'll give it a try! Premiere: September 25th, @ 9:30pm EST.


Source: TV Guide

Scorpion - Last but not least is Scorpion. I've been watching this show since it started and I'm excited to continue. It's nerdy, and its definitely a bit cheesy and that's sort of okay. It works somehow. Probably due to their great cast. I'd love to say I remembered how last season left off, but unfortunately at this point I'd need a refresher. Regardless of whether or not I have the memory of a fish, I will be watching the premiere tonight. Premiere: Septemeber 25th, @ 10pm EST. 

I want to know what you're watching tonight!! Tell me what shows are on your radar - new and old! :) 


 

9/19/17

Save ACA - Act NOW against the Graham-Cassidy Bill!




Stop what you're doing and take a minute - this is important. Congress is now threatening the Affordable Care Act yet AGAIN with their new disastrous plan - which would take away health care from millions of Americans. The Graham-Cassidy bill is a death sentence that only helps the rich. We cannot allow this bill to pass.

Please take a moment of your day and call to make your voice heard against this life-threatening bill. Stand up for your fellow Americans. Those with pre-existing conditions. Children. Veterans. Don't like phone calls? I know. Me neither. But I did it and you can too.

You can also text RESIST to 504-09 to send a FAX to your representatives in Congress. It's easy and free!!

Share this with your friends and family - we need to make noise!!

Thank you to those who continue to stand up for all Americans and who fight day after day. <3

9/17/17

Let's Try It: Whole Foods Market




I live in Western New York. Wegmans territory. People take their love for Wegmans pretty seriously, and I can say that I have for most of my life, been a part of that crowd. Don't get me wrong, I still like Wegmans but I personally feel that as they have expanded into other regions of the country, the quality and selection at my local stores has gone a bit downhill. When Trader Joe's entered the region I was excited to try out a store I had heard of for years. Then, we heard we were getting a Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Market is a store I've heard of for years and years, but to which I have never been. I've thought of stopping at one when in New York or traveling up into Canada but I never did. I've always been a bit envious of those that have Whole Foods in their area. From what I heard their commitment to fresh and clean food is unmatched. Well, after what feels like ten years but was really only a few, Whole Foods is finally open in my area (it's still an hour drive away though)! Of course I had to make the trip and check out what all the fuss was about.

Whole Foods opened this past Friday, and I thought of going on opening day or Saturday but I just didn't want to deal with the crowds. I'm really not a fan of them. But after getting some school work taken care of, I felt like venturing out today (Sunday).

The store was definitely still busy but I wonder how much of that was typical Sunday traffic since I don't really go to any grocery stores on a Sunday if I can help it.




The first thing I noticed was how nice and organized their produce section was. It's a neurotic person's dream! Pyramids and rows of (almost) any produce you could want all lined up for the picking. Wegmans has always had a great produce section, but I can say that Whole Foods does it better. I was however hoping to find some Rapini but I didn't. I loved that the organic apples were the same price as the conventional ones and that they had plenty of my favorite kind of apple: Honeycrisp! The mangoes were a GREAT price and HUGE!!! I don't get mangoes often but I just couldn't resist.

I've got a lovely bunch of mangoes...


Something I was really excited to check out was their beauty section. Everything they sell is CRUELTY FREE!! It was an amazing experience to be able to browse the shelves and know that I could pick up any thing I wanted and not have to worry whether or not the products were tested on animals. I've honestly never been able to do that before and it was so nice!


I wanted this illume cider woods candle soooo badly but I had to stop myself. It smelled amazing though!!






Their middle isles were a bit smaller than what I'm used to, but they have an abundance of new and different products to try out. It was a bit overwhelming, but in a good way. If I hadn't just gone grocery shopping, I would have likely explored these isles a bit more.

I browsed their prepared foods section and it all looked divine. Wegmans used to have a good hot foods bar but I stopped eating there as the quality unfortunately has decreased. The set up at Whole Foods though, really blew me away. Next time I'm in this area, I will have to make a point to stop for lunch here. I did however, grab a slice of their pizza to bring home and try. I got the Rapini and Pancetta (ironically, I did find the rapini... just not in the way I was looking for it!).


Friggin' fresh pasta!!




I also grabbed a loaf of bread. It was REALLY hard to pick because they all looked amazing! I opted for the cranberry pecan. :) I love that the ingredients in their bread are simple and BS free!

It's also a really beautiful store. The bocce court is a bit weird imo, but I love the wood and grey combo they went with for the store, and everything is organized really nicely. :) 

I know everyone says that Whole Foods is super expensive, but I can't really speak to that too much. I did feel that some items were a bit pricey, but for what I got I don't know that I did too bad. I couldn't see doing my full grocery shop here though - but I will definitely return. Aside from the turmeric latte I got that was pretty horrible (I just needed to try it!), I have no complaints. Glad I finally got to scratch my Whole Foods itch and I'm happy that they realized Buffalo was a place on the map! Now if only IKEA would do the same!! ;) A girl can dream....

9/15/17

Aint Nobody Got Time: Super Quick & Easy Chili




The semester is in full swing, and there are days where I really don't have the time (or the energy) to cook up a full blown meal. But, it's pretty much fall and that means that I want ALL OF THE COMFORT FOODS. Give them to me!! One of the things that I always want to make during this time of year is chili. Usually, when I make chili, it's a full blown thing in the crock pot and I make tons of it and it simmers all day making the house smell amazeballs. However, I honestly didn't have the time for that today... and as a little bonus obstacle, the house is currently in the process of being remodeled and I literally couldn't get to the crock pot, so I decided to shoot for a more abridged version that would still satisfy my fall cravings but not consume my entire day.

Chili can be a super easy meal to make. It's not that it takes all day to make it, but there certainly is some prep and honestly, sometimes cooking takes more of my energy than I'd like to admit to so making this version is a nice compromise. You still get all those awesome chili flavors, but in a smaller quantity and with much less work.

I love how well chili keeps as a leftover. It seems to get better with age a lot of the time. You can make some corn bread on the side, top it with sour cream or cheddar cheese, or do my current favorite: top with Fritos (yep, super classy).  This particular recipe was also incredibly frugal to make thanks to Aldi where I was able to pick up everything I needed at a fraction of what it would cost me elsewhere. I talked about Aldi in my August favorites, and trust me the love is still going strong!

 - Quick & Easy Chili -


You will need: 

2lbs ground beef
1 large vidalia onion
3 bell peppers
1 15.5 oz can of mild chili beans in chili sauce*
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 1.25oz packet chili original seasoning*
3 15.50z cans light kidney beans
1 15oz can dark red kidney beans
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
About 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Parsley - 1 tbs
Chili Powder - 2 tsp/to taste
Granulated garlic 2 tsp/to taste

*these were Aldi items I haven't seen elsewhere

To make: 

1. Star by prepping your peppers and onions by chopping them up and setting them aside in a bowl.
2. Brown the beef, drain and set aside.
3. In a dutch oven (or similar pot - mine is from Target because Le Creuset is a bit too rich for my blood!) add some oil and start to saute your peppers and onions over a medium/high heat - about 10/15 minutes.
4. Once the onions are translucent and the peppers are tender, go ahead and add the beef to your pot. Stir to combine.
5. Then add all of your canned items, as well as the chili seasoning, Worcestershire and spices, and stir to combine.
6. Lover the heat to about medium/low and let simmer for at least an hour - more if you've got the time. Stirring occasionally.

That's literally it! You can simmer your chili for hours if you've got the time, but if you don't, even 45 minutes is enough to allow this chili to come together. It's not an ornate culinary creation, but it's quick, comforting and most important - delicious.  Note: it was so good that there's no pretty photo of it actually in a bowl. But I wanted to share this recipe for you to try, AND for me to remember how I did it!




9/13/17

Let's Try It: Sonic




Okay, so Sonic is nothing new and has been in my particular area for at least a year now? Probably more - I honestly lose track of time. But when they first opened, I didn't try it because hype + hella busy just kept me away. Then I heard some iffy reviews, and honestly I kept forgetting about them. They're in an area I don't always frequent so I just never got around to giving them a shot. Fast forward to today when I was in the area *trying* to run some errands (and failing). I was cranky, tired and HOT (It's supposed to be Fall not near 80°). So I decided since they were nearby, to finally try them out.

I love trying new places. New foods. New products. New anything really. I'm also full of it. Opinions that is! ;) So I thought I'd start up a new series here on the blog called Let's Try It. Simple. No Frills - just my honest opinions on this and that. Really it's a way for me to neurotically categorize this type of post so it isn't sitting here without a home. Forgive me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So back to the grub. I pulled up to on of their food stalls and instantly was overwhelmed because they have a super huge menu - a lot of which I honestly couldn't read (yes, with my glasses on). I ended up getting their popcorn chicken with tots and lemonade. I knew I wanted tots - I really, really, love potatoes in all their glorious forms.

In terms of service, I have no complaints. The food came quickly and I was off on my way in less than five minutes. 

I'm happy that they offer a bunch of different non pop (soda if you rather) options since I don't drink the stuff. I often feel stuck with water or coffee when I get food, so that was a nice change. The lemonade was pretty good too - I'm super sensitive to things that are too sweet but this wasn't too bad. I will say that while I like the crushed ice, they lose MAJOR points for using Styrofoam cups. Boo!

The bag was a lil greasy, but the food was HOT.


The food came with a little mint!

The tots and popcorn chicken both came in little cups which I liked because it made it easy to eat while I ran the rest of my errands. I really liked the tots - which are sort of a dupe for Burger King breakfast hash browns which I only ever get maybe once a year but love.  The chicken was also surprisingly good. Nice and crispy, not too seasoned, and white meat.

Honestly I have no complaints for the food and I think they might even be cheaper than a lot of other fast food places around. My meal was about $7 which I didn't think was too bad for the amount I got. If they had a location near me I'd probably go just for the lemonade & tots to be honest! My only real gripe was that they used Styrofoam cups since that is so bad for the environment. Other than that, Sonic gets two thumbs up from me.


9/12/17

The best lip gloss ever: Anastasia Beverly Hills



Even though I sometimes go weeks without even touching my makeup, and there's plenty of times where I don't have the energy to even try and put anything on, I still love trying out new makeup and hoarding it essentially. ;)

I think the thing I'm drawn to most is eye shadow even though I wear it probably the least. I don't own many lip colors as I suffer from chronically chapped lips and have as long as I can remember. The whole matte lip thing is the worst as far as I'm concerned - I can't wear them (though, it doesn't stop me from buying one every now and then...) because they simply accentuate how bad my lips are. Things with sheen are best if I actually want to wear some color because they're often more moisturizing and they seem to disguise any texture in my lips a bit. Still, I can count on one hand the number of lip products I own that aren't lip balms (that I have a TON of - I'll try anything hoping it is the miracle I've been looking for). I'm jealous of everyone who can wear all these fabulous lip products and shades!!!

I was having a walk through Sephora recently - admittedly for the first time in months, and I came across the display of lip glosses from Anastasia Beverly Hills. I like shiny things so it immediately drew me in and what really got my attention was this shade that looks, upon first glance, like a white lip gloss. Hmmm......





In the right light, this lip gloss appears white but any sudden moves will make you realize that it's much more than that! It's full of mirco-glitter in a rainbow of shades that gives it this wonderful iridescent sheen. It's not glitter like back in high school, this is more of a subtle sparkle that is much more up my alley now! I swatched the tester on my hand and immediately fell in love. I knew this baby had to come home with me!



 I did my best to give you a true swatch but photos just don't do this gloss justice!

I love the colors in this gloss, but I also love the formula. It feels moisturizing and a bit thicker - it's not runny like some glosses, but despite the thicker consistency, it's not too sticky. *smacks lips* It's barely sticky at all actually! It also smells AMAZING! It's got a yummy vanilla scent - but as someone who has a hard time with scents sometimes (hello, migraines), it's not too much to piss of my head. It also has decent staying power. Generally, glosses don't last long at all, but this one stuck around even after drinking my morning coffee. Impressive!



The color is called Moon Jelly, which just seems like the perfect name for this. It's got a nice thicker texture and the iridescence gives it a sort of spacey glow. It doesn't look like you've slapped glitter on your lips but instead makes your lips just pop. I feel like it just brightens up my whole face. I've worn it with a full face of makeup, with some simple mascara, and on it's own. It's super versatile and oh so pretty. There's a subtle sparkle which you'll have to just trust me on - that was really hard to capture in photos!

It was $16 at Sephora, so not the cheapest, but for a nice gloss that is of course, CRUELTY FREE, it is a winner in my book!! Though, if you've got any dupes to suggest, please let me know!! It's also actually the first product from Anastasia that I've tried. I know they're a brand that plenty of people rave about, I guess I just like to do things at my own pace. ;) They're on my radar now though!

9/3/17

Five Shows I'm Excited About - Fall 2017




You should know this by now if you've ever read my blog before, but if you didn't: I'm a TV junkie. TV is my jam. I'm excited for Fall shows to come back and was thinking about which ones I'm most looking forward to, and thought I'd share my love of TV (and list making with you all.

1. Elementary - There was a bit of anxiety over whether or not CBS would renew Elementary and thankfully they did! I love this version of Sherlock (I've been enjoying the BBC version as well - don't worry), and I'm so happy it will be returning. The chemistry between Joan and Sherlock is electric, and the cases are always unique. I can't wait to see where they take us this year.




2. Superior Donuts - I quickly became a huge fan of this show last season. I watched the first episode with apprehension but then realized that the show is a gem. It weaves together comedy and important, relevant societal issues - giving the viewer honesty and humor and I think they do it really well. The cast is diverse which is great - and gives the show more sincerity in its content. I look forward to seeing what's in store in their second season.

3. Law & Order SVU - This is a no brainer. SVU is one of my favorite shows so of course its on the list. I hope that the 19th (19!!!) season brings us a good dose of all the characters - and I'd love to see them bring back my favorite Dr. (Wong) & Medical Examiner (Melinda) (long shots but a girl can dream...).

4. Mom - Mom is one of my favorite current sitcoms and I can't be alone since it continues to do well and get picked up for additional seasons. The cast is great, the story lines are awesome, real, authentic - and funny!! I am a loyal viewer of Grey's Anatomy (though a frustrated one to be honest, hence little talk of the show here, and it's absence from this list), and I truly appreciate that after watching Grey's, I flip to CBS to enjoy a sitcom. It's like a dose of therapy - for real.

5. NCIS: LA - *spoiler*  When the season closed up, Agent Sam Hanna had just lost his wife Michelle. During the season, Deeks and the team dealt with nearly losing Kensie, The future of Hetty was unknown, and they lost Granger. There was a lot of drama and flux during season eight, so I'm anxious to see what happens next for this team. Hopefully, they get some good news to balance all the loss from last season??



Honorable Mention: Like many, I am absolutely excited for the return of Will & Grace. Although I have not seen all of the original in its entirety, I did truly enjoy watching it when I did. I'm a huge fan of the classic sitcom and that's what Will & Grace delivers. Of course it's on at a time that conflicts with other shows that I've been watching for years, so I don't know how I'm going to swing both, but I will certainly have it on my radar and hope to find a way. <3

You know this list isn't all I'll be watching, but they're the top five in my book. Let me know what show's you'll be watching this season. Any new ones I should check out?? Give them a shout out in the comments! 

8/28/17

August Favorites

Hey howdy hey, it's already the end of August!?!? Today I started up with school again so it feels like summer is in its last moments. Technically, we have about another month, but yesterday I bought apple cider and today is the start of a new semester, so it's a comin'!

I haven't done a favorites post in a minute and I actually have a few things that I've discovered/obsessed over this past month, so I figured I'd share them. :) As always, they are in no particular order.



Seltzer. I'm a pretty boring person. I stopped drinking pop years ago and I rarely drink alcohol (I get crazy congested when I do, and it often makes my headaches worse so that kind of takes any fun out of it...). I basically only drink coffee/water/tea. For some reason, I had never tried seltzer waters because I apparently have been living under a rock. How have I not tried freakin' seltzer?!? Well, I have now and let me tell you, I am full on obsessed. I have been trying all the brands I can get my hands on and a bunch of different flavors and while I can't say I've got a favorite brand yet, I think my favorite flavor is lemon lime for sure. I'm so glad I've found something else I can actually drink because sometimes I really get sick of the coffee/water/tea routine.

The Sims 4. I've talked about this game on the blog before - I've even reviewed an expansion pack. Rest assured, my love is still strong for this game. I played quite a bit over the summer, and during my last week leading up to the new semester, I played quite a bit. My favorite bit is still building houses, but lately, I've been playing around a lot more with the actual sims. I've actually considered creating a series on the blog based on some of the experiments I do with my characters. Because of course, being a sociology nerd, I couldn't leave it at being merely a game. I have to pick it apart in some way. Whether or not I create said series, you can be fairly certain that this won't be the last you hear of The Sims 4. Pets are coming out in November (nope, not counting down anxiously at ALL....)!!

BBC Sherlock. Also over the break, my sister decided that while she was around, we should watch some of the BBC Sherlock series together. We started from the beginning, and while I still haven't finished, I am very much in love. I'm totally an anglophile, so the show wins me over quite easily, but it's such a good show regardless. With my usual shows gearing back up soon, I'm hoping I can still find time to continue the series. I realize how very behind I am! Trust me, it's typical.

Rituals Bed & Body Mist. I was so excited when I saw that Ulta was now carrying Rituals, which is a brand I have wanted to try since I first heard about it. Of course it wasn't so easy to get ahold of in the states and quite expensive if you did, so I've put it off for years. I randomally noticed the other day that Ulta is now carrying quite a few UK/European brands that I've been wanting to try so I placed an order and so far, this spray is my favorite thing. It's called The Ritual of Laughing Buddha Bed & Body spray and it's soooooooo wonderful. It's nice and light which means that so far, it hasn't triggered my migraines or caused me any issues (unfortunately I am pretty sensitive to scents). This particular scent is described as being sweet orange and cedar and it's just lovely. It's a very fresh scent - definitely not too strong. I love spritzing it on my bed, which ends up causing my whole bedroom to smell amazing. I've also used it as a quick spray before heading out the door, though I think it fades quicker this way. Either way, I really recommend this product - especially if you're like me and have a hard time finding anything scented that doesn't immediately cause headaches!

Aldi. I won't talk too much about this now because I plan to expand in a future blog post, but let me just say that I've become straight up obsessed with Aldi grocery stores. Being a born and bread WNY-er, I've been loyal to Wegmans for many, many years. However, lately I've been feeling like the quality hasn't been up to snuff, and I've been a bit underwhelmed. I'm not breaking up with them, but we're certainly seeing less of each other. Especially since Aldi is SO AMAZING! I'm able to nail nearly every item on my list and at less cost which are obvious wins. Another reason I love Aldi? Their stores are so much smaller. I find that grocery shopping is a love/hate situation for me. I'm a foodie so I love it, but the anxious me - the me who often struggles with some sort of headache or chronic pain, doesn't love the gigantic stores. The weekly grocery shop can easily deplete me of my energy. So I am immensely grateful that Aldi is such a smaller store. I still get nearly everything I need, but it's far less stressful. Ahhhhhh.

Thera Tears. This might seem like an odd item to share, but I'm doing so because it has honestly been a favorite of mine this month, and I know that it might be useful to someone else. As someone who blogs, writes, works from home online, and goes to school online, I spend a lot of time on my computer. I also like playing video games, and watching tv and .... screens, screens, screens! Unfortunately with that comes some inevitable eye strain. Sometimes eye strain is just that, but other times it seems to be a precursor to headaches or even a migraine. These eye drops are awesome because they instantly sooth my eyes when I start to feel strained. They don't always solve all my problems, but they often keep them at bay. I've linked them through Amazon so you'd know which type I'm talking about, but please shop around if you're looking for these - they're pretty expensive here!

Hope everyone had a wonderful August and is able to enjoy a bit more summer before it's gone!

8/16/17

Lately


I know it's been quiet here on the blog. Sometimes I find it better to just let things simmer rather than forcing posts when I'm feeling uninspired/distracted/exhausted.

I've been trying to enjoy the summer before a new semester starts. Plenty of reading has been happening, whole neighborhoods of houses in Sims 4 have been built and then abandoned (I often like the game more for the building rather than anything else).

Ebay has taken up a lot of my time as I work to build my store on there. I enjoy the thrill of hunting for unique treasures and sharing them with others.



The flowers are in full bloom and the veggie garden is *knocks on wood* doing really great. Will this year be the year my tomatoes don't get any sort of disease?? I anxiously wait to see...

I've definitely been watching too much news... it's honestly hard not to. I find myself in a constant state of disappointment and anger lately. While there are certainly awesome people out there who are speaking out and standing up, it also feels like an endless cycle of ridiculous, angering, and offensive news. If you find yourself feeling frustrated as I often do, I suggest you find ways to get involved if you aren't already. A super easy way to do so is through Resist Bot. By texting 'resist' to 50409, you can fax or call your representatives in Congress. It's free and incredibly accessible. Whether it's noon or the middle of the night, you can easily shoot off a message! Do it frequently to unlock new features!

I don't have much else to report but I wanted to send out a quick post to say that I'm still around and I haven't forgotten about the blog. I've got some posts planned for the not-so-distant future, so stay tuned!

7/6/17

Recipe: Super Pumpkin Muffins - Gluten Free, Vegan



It might be July but today I had a craving for pumpkin. I wanted something savory and comforting, but also something not too sugary or heavy. Lately I've been feeling like a lot of different foods don't want to agree with me, so I was looking for something fairly simple. These pumpkin muffins are super dense and filled with plenty of good-for-you ingredients. There's no gluten, no refined sugar and they're dairy free - making them also vegan.

To whip these up all you need is one bowl and a spoon, so clean up is also fairly easy. They'd make a great breakfast muffin, but they're totally perfect for an afternoon snack or dessert as well.



Super Pumpkin Muffins 

Makes 6 hearty muffins 


Ingredients: 

1 cup pure organic pumpkin
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave
1 scant tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/5 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tsp chia seed
1 tsp flax seeds
1/2 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

Directions: 

- Preheat oven to 350, and grease a muffin pan (I use coconut cooking spray).
- Combine all wet ingredient together in a large bowl.
-Add in oats and other dry ingredients.
-Spoon into muffin pan and bake for 30-35 minutes (more or less, depending on your oven!)
-Enjoy!

These muffins came out super moist thanks to the pumpkin/apple sauce duo so if you like them dryer, you can lessen these amounts, or add a bit more oat. These are highly versatile muffins! They might seem like a fall dessert but I think pumpkin should be embraced year round! :)

6/30/17

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson (REVIEW)

 

As I make my way through my goal of reading more diverse books, I've come across and read many that have to do with race relations in the United States. Piecing Me Together is no exception, and is perhaps (so far) one of the best that I've read which deals with this issue. Renée Watson delivers the subject with such honesty and youthful emotion that made this book impossible to put down. I read half of it in one sitting, and half in another. 

Piecing Me Together focuses on a young girl living in the Pacific Northwest named Jade. A black girl living with her single mother, and uncle in a low-income, fairly homogeneous neighborhood, she straddles different worlds between her home life and that at her private school in another area of town. Jade attends the school on scholarship because of her hard work and talent, but she struggles between resenting the assistance and trying to appreciate it. She doesn't want to be someones project. When she is offered an opportunity through a program at school that will provide her with a college scholarship, its both not what she wanted, and everything she needs at the same time (whether she knows this or not). 

In some ways Piecing Me Together reads like your average YA novel. In so many, many ways though, it is not. What I love about this book is how it not only tackles the issue of race on both micro and macro levels, but it also address other issues like poverty, body image, relationships and more. It is a book of layers and so many of the layers stood out to me. I found myself smiling and/or nodding my head as I read page after page of moments that resonated with me. The character of Jade is so profound even in her youthfulness. Piecing Me Together challenges the stereotype that with youth comes ignorance as Jade is wise beyond her years. 

This book should be a must read for adolescents, and really - for anyone. As an adult in my early thirties, I enjoyed the book very much. Piecing Me Together tackles the raw subject of race - one which pulses so intensely in our society right now, while also addressing issues that might seem far less consequential like body issues, misogyny, and even simply advocating for yourself and having self-confidence. Often these are identified as issues of adolescence but they are very much issues that linger with us throughout our lives, for some more than others, making this book a very valuable read. 

If you're looking for a book to fly through over your fourth of July vacation or on your next holiday getaway, give this one a try. Trust me - its worth it!

6/28/17

Budget Travels: St. Catharines & Welland Canal, Ontario Canada



Living in Western New York, sometimes I feel like there aren't many places to explore within a short distance. It's a wildly incorrect assumption and this summer, I've decided to try and explore the region in which I live a bit more. So naturally I started by going to visit my neighbors in the north, and took a trip to St. Catharines, Ontario Canada. ;)

Considering where I live, and the special relationship that exists and has existed for years between Canada and Western New York, it seems justifiable to include Ontario province in my adventure radius. I have always had wanderlust, but I often have my sights set on places far away. However, my bank account and my desires don't always align, so I decided that this summer would be the summer of budget friendly adventures! I thought it would be nice to try and document these excursions here on the blog, as I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to travel without breaking the bank or really, let's be honest, being able to do so. I'm also excited to really explore places within my own neck of the woods (more or less) as I'm embarrassed to admit just how little I have experienced in my own region. So here's to a summer filled with adventures seeking to change that!

Anyway, back to my trip to St. Catharines... it's a city I've heard the name of over the years but my knowledge really ended there. I still feel like I haven't really been there if I'm honest, because the place we really went to check out was the Welland Canal and Lock 3 which is located in St. Catharines. I can't even explain where it started but a few weeks ago, I was reading about the history of the Welland Canal and it really is a fascinating story. Start with wikipedia (just remember, it's wikipedia!!) and check out some youtube videos too if you fancy. The history of the canal really is interesting. For those that don't know, the Welland canal was built to allow large ships (like huge ocean cargo ships) to navigate through the Great Lakes, from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie and onward. It is part of a larger pathway that allows these massive ships to come from the ocean all the way to the Great Lakes. To get these ships from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie isn't as simple as navigating a smaller seaway - it involves going from a lower lake to a higher lake. To achieve this, ships need to go through a series of locks which raise and lower the ships to allow them to navigate from one lake to another.





After reading all about the canal, I decided I wanted to go check it out for myself. There are locks in the WNY region, but I've never seen them in action, so my curiosity, coupled with the fact that I could pick up more of my favorite Canadian treats made the trip a must. St. Catharines is a perfect spot to experience the canal since there is also a museum - The St. Catharine's Museum, and they have a really great observation deck to watch the whole process of ships coming in and out (or up and down as they say).

The museum is free, and the parking is also free. It's a gorgeous spot and when we went to check it out, it was certainly an international hub. People come from all over the world to experience the canal! As someone with a degree in sociology, I felt my ethnographic research skills coming back as I took in all the different exchanges occurring around me from people who had traveled far and wide to visit this one particular place. I could have easily sat and people watched for awhile.






Watching the ships is a fascinating experience and honestly, in some ways I find it hard to describe. I still don't fully understand how exactly it all works!! I was so mystified by the process that at times I just had to appreciate the ingenuity of it all. We got to watch a ship going down through the canal, and up. I could see spending even more time traveling along the canal to see ships pass through other locks as well.

A great part of the museum is that they post what ships are coming through and at what times, so it helps to plan your trip in order to catch them as they go through Lock 3. You can also call for the information - the number is on their site.

If you do go to Lock 3 in St. Catharines, do also take a walk around inside the museum. They have interesting historical artifacts from the history of St. Catharines and the region as a whole - including from the Underground Railroad, WWI, and WW2. 

If you live in the WNY region, and have not experienced the canal or see the big ocean liners coming through the locks, I encourage you to take the short trip north to experience it. It's free, you can pick up some Cadbury, grab some poutine and enjoy a *real* authentic Timmy's. What have you got to lose, eh?