Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!!  May we remember today that it is not about the presents but about the gift that was given to us so many years ago.  In the beauty and peacefulness and yes, stress and chaos of the season may we look to Jesus who is the true reason for the season.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Homemade Chocolates

I got an early Christmas present of a chocolate mold.  I decided to make some homemade chocolates for Christmas with a combination of white and semi-sweet chocolate.  The chocolates were so easy to make and almost look professional!



Monday, December 22, 2014

Gingerbread Men & Reindeer Cookies

I was preparing cookies for an upcoming cookie exchange.  I decided to make gingerbread men and then saw on the internet that if you turn the gingerbread men upside down, you can make them into reindeers.  How cleaver!!





Here's the recipe I used for the gingerbread.  I found the recipe on the Taste of Home website:

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice


  • Directions

    1. In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses, egg and water. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice; add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide dough in half. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until easy to handle.
    2. Preheat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion of dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Cut with a floured 4-in. cookie cutter. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Reroll scraps.
    3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired. Yield: about 2 dozen.

    Friday, December 19, 2014

    Secret Outlast Clear Gel Deodorant

    I received a Secret Clear Gel Deodorant in the ooh-la-la Lavender scent to test thanks to BzzAgent.

    I usually don't wear clear gel deodorants but hate the white marks that my usual white stick deodorant leaves on my dark clothing. I'm happy to report that this deodorant leaves no white marks because it is a clear gel with an invisible finish. 







    I received the lavender scent to test and it has a delicate floral scent that is not overpowering. I was impressed with the performance of this product. At the end of the day there was no smelly body odour and I could still smell the light lavender scent. That's impressive for all day deodorant wear! 

    I did notice that this gel takes a few seconds to dry after applying it but that's not a big issue. For all the benefits of this deodorant I can put up with a little longer drying time :) Overall, I was impressed with this product and it is a deodorant I would definitely recommend to others.

    Thursday, December 18, 2014

    Gingerbread Oreo Truffles

    My last post was about Oreo Truffles.  I decided to try a variation to that recipe and make Gingerbread Oreo truffles.  I think they turned out well although I found the white chocolate difficult to work with when dipping the truffles.  The chocolate didn't want to stay smooth and got a bit lumpy even though I kept it on the double boiler while dipping the truffles into it.  Maybe the chocolate got heated too much?





    Ingredients:
    1 bag of Gingerbread Oreo cookies (265g)
    1/3 of a 250g tub of cream cheese

    White chocolate wafers for melting

    Directions:
    1.  Half cookies and place in a food processor until crumb consistency.
    2.  Add the cream cheese and mix well in food processor.
    3.  Roll mixture into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
    4.  Place in freezer to firm up.
    5.  Melt chocolate wafers in a double boiler.
    6.  Dip oreo balls in melted chocolate.
    7.  Place in freezer to get firm.
    8.  Drizzle with melted semi-sweet chocolate if desired.

    Saturday, December 13, 2014

    Oreo Truffles

    I came across a recipe for Oreo truffles and decided they looked easy enough to make so I gave them a try.




    Ingredients:
    1 bag of Oreo cookies (300g)
    1/2 of a 250g tub of chocolate cream cheese

    Semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Directions:
    1.  Half cookies and place in a food processor until crumb consistency.
    2.  Add the cream cheese and mix well in food processor.
    3.  Roll mixture into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
    4.  Place in freezer to firm up.
    5.  Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler (I also add a bit of vegetable shortening).
    6.  Dip oreo balls in melted chocolate.
    7.  Place in freezer to get firm.
    8.  Drizzle with melted white chocolate if desired.

    I would like to try a variation of this recipe with the special edition Gingerbread Oreos and plain cream cheese.  I would then coat these truffles in white chocolate.  They would be a very festive flavour!

    Thursday, December 4, 2014

    Peanut Butter Cup Bars

    If you love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups you will love this recipe.  It requires no baking and can be done in the microwave.




    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup unsalted butter or margarine
    1 3/4 cups icing sugar
    1 cup smooth peanut butter
    3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

    Topping:
    1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine
    1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
    1 tbsp. peanut butter (optional)

    Directions:
    1.  Line an 8" x 8" pan with foil.
    2.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter.
    3.  Remove from microwave and add icing sugar; stir until smooth.
    4.  Stir in peanut butter and graham cracker crumbs.
    5.  Spread mixture in pan.
    6.  For topping:
         i) Combine butter, chocolate chips and peanut butter if desired in microwave safe bowl.
        ii)  Microwave for about 30 second intervals until melted, stirring after each interval.
       iii)  Pour chocolate over squares and refrigerate until set.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    GOSH Mineral powder

    I received the GOSH mineral powder in 004 Natural to test. I found the colour was a good match for my skin tone. I usually wear Ivory foundation and powder and this shade worked well for me. 





    I applied the powder with a flat topped brush and that made application a breeze. The formula is lightweight and blends easily into the skin. I found the coverage to be medium to full as the product promised. It covered up my many acne scars and imperfections without much effort. 

    The product claims to have a natural matte finish but within one hour of applying the product, my skin was shiny and oily looking. I do have oily skin but wasn't expecting a "matte" product to make my skin look so shiny in such a short period of time. That being said, I blotted my face and carried on with my day and the makeup stayed put.  The next day I tried applying a primer before the powder and then a setting powder after and it seemed to control the oiliness much better on my face.  Overall, I really liked the coverage this product provided but found it did not work so well with my oily skin to give me the matte look I was looking for.


    I received free product from ChickAdvisor to facilitate this review.

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Wordless Wednesday

    Christmas must be coming because Oreo has come out with a limited edition Gingerbread cookie!  My mom spotted these in store yesterday and picked up a couple bags.  They really are a nice cookie and the gingerbread flavour is not over powering.  It's actually quite mild.



    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    Essie Nail Polish Find at Dollarama

    I found this nail polish at Dollarama for $3.  It was a bargain as Essie normally retails for about $10 per bottle.  The bottle has no name on it so I'm not sure what the colour is called but it is a deep reddish, plum colour.



    The polish covered nicely in two coats. I probably could have gotten away with one coat but wanted a second coat for extra durability.




    Update:

    I did some digging on the internet and discovered that this nail colour is actually a magnetic polish called SSSSSexy.  The white cap on the bottle was shorter than the other Essie polishes I have so it would seem that something was to go over the cap.  Sure enough there was suppose to be a square cap with a magnet on the end that went on but was missing.  A lot of the polishes at Dollarama had no name on them and I wonder if they too were part of this magnetic collection.

    Anyway, I saw a Youtube video where you can put a magnet right up to the side of the bottle to see what design would come about.  I experimented with the magnets on the fridge and those that were weaker yielded a pattern but those that were very strong yielded no pattern.  I found a magnet that made horizontal lines and below is the sample nail I tried this pattern on:



    I'm so excited to discover the polish I purchased is actually a magnetic polish and look forward to experimenting with different magnet patterns!

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Wordless Wednesday

    Nothing better than fresh, homemade, warm from the oven cheese bread to warm you up on a cool, fall day!




    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Autumn Apple Cake

    My sister made an apple cake the other day from a recipe she found on line.  Being fall, there is currently an abundance of apples to bake with.  This cake is light and the topping adds a nice crunch.  The perfect cake to serve for company as it makes a 9" x 13" cake.


    Ingredients:
    • 2/3 cup butter 
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 2/3 cup buttermilk
    • 3 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
    • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (ie. pecans or walnuts)



  • For cake, cream together butter, sugar. Add eggs, and vanilla and beat till well blended.
  • Stir in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Fold in chopped apples and nuts.
  • Pour into a 9" by 13" greased pan.  Make topping (see below) and sprinkle over cake.
  • Bake in 350 oven for 40 minutes.
  • Cool, serve with whipped topping and a drizzle of caramel sauce if you like


  • Topping:
    • 1 tbsp melted butter
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup rolled oats
    • 2 tsp flour
    • 1/4 cup chopped nuts
    • 1/4 cup coconut
    • 1/4 cup toffee bits
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • Crumble this together and sprinkle over cake batter.




    Monday, October 27, 2014

    GOSH Lip Lacquer

    This lip lacquer is a very unique product.  The packaging looks like a nail polish bottle.  Inside there is a typical slant tipped applicator which makes it easy to apply to your lips.  The formula itself smells like watermelon and not chemical like at all.


    Colour 006 Funky Lips


    The product is like a combination of a lipstick and a lip gloss.  It is highly pigmented and I found the colour a little too bold for my liking.  The product also has the shine of a lip gloss.





     The formula feels so nice on the lips.  Not sticky or tacky and not dry.  I found the colour lasts for hours if not eating or drinking.  Overall, I liked this product and would love to try it in a more subtle colour next time.




    I received free product from ChickAdvisor to facilitate this review.

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    GOSH Double Precision Mascara

    I absolutely love the GOSH Double Precision Mascara!  I have tried many mascaras over the years from drug store brands to high end brands and this is by far my favourite mascara to date.





     I look for a mascara to enhance my natural lashes without making them look too dramatic or "made up".  This mascara does just what I want.  The formula is not as wet as other brands I've tried which I think helps to prevent my lashes from sticking together.  My lashes look full, thick and voluminous.





    I like that there are two wands in this product.  One bigger wand for the upper lashes and a smaller wand for the lower lashes.  It really helps to have these different sizes to adequately reach all the lashes.  This mascara stays put all day with no flaking or smudging.  It is also easy to wash off with soap and water.  Overall, I would definitely recommend this mascara to others to try.  Two thumbs up from me!


    I received free product from ChickAdvisor to facilitate this review.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Wordless Wednesday

    This past weekend my family celebrated my aunt and uncle's 40th Wedding Anniversary.  They are not big cake eaters so my mom and I created this for them using Rice Krispies:




    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    China Glaze Don't Make Me Wine Nail Polish

    I picked up China Glaze's "Don't Make Me Wine" colour on line at Nail Polish Canada.  As the name suggests it is a wine colour that is perfect for the fall season.  I would actually wear this colour in the summer as well it's so pretty and shiny.




    The formula is really easy to work with and I found I just needed one coat of the polish to cover.  The below picture is just one coat of the polish with no top coat. It's shiny enough on its own!



    Friday, October 3, 2014

    Sweet Marie Bars

    My family enjoys these sweet bars for a treat.  They are quick and easy to make in the microwave.  Enjoy!



    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup corn syrup
    1 tbsp. butter or margarine
    2 cups Rice Krispies

    Icing:
    2/3 cup chocolate chips
    2 tbsp. butter or margarine
    Directions:
    1. In a microwave safe bowl place peanut butter, sugar, corn syrup and butter.  Heat in microwave for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute.
    2. Remove from microwave and add Rice Krispies.
    3. Press into a greased 8- or 9-inch square pan.
    4. For icing, melt chocolate chips and butter in a microwave safe bowl (I use a glass measuring cup) for about 1 1/2 minutes, stirring after each 20-30 second interval until mixture is melted.  Be careful as chocolate burns easily in the microwave! 
    5. Spread chocolate over bars and let cool in the refrigerator until set. 

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    Do It Yourself Framed Kleenex Art

    I wanted some art for over my bed and decided to create my own art with materials I had lying around the house.  I had 3 matching silver/grey frames that I wanted to use.  I also had some very pretty decorative kleenex and decided to frame them!




    First I took the kleenex and very gently ironed them on a low setting to get out the fold lines and any wrinkles.




    Next I cut the kleenex to slightly larger than the size of the frame. I placed the kleenex in the frame and taped the overlap to hold it in place.   

    And voila, I had my own art: 




    Wednesday, September 24, 2014

    Wordless Wednesday




    Agria pototoes from my sister's garden.  All these potatoes came from just one hill!!  They are huge!!

    Saturday, September 20, 2014

    Covergirl Ready, Set Gorgeous Foundation

    I wear foundation on a daily basis to cover up acne scars, redness and imperfections.  I have tried many foundations over the years but always come back to Covergirl foundations.  Their colours match my skin tone and the price is reasonable.

    I recently noticed that Shopper's Drug Mart was having a sale on the new Covergirl Ready, Set Gorgeous foundation for $5.99.  That was a great price but being the bargain hunter I am, I found a coupon through the SmartSource coupon portal on Swagbucks for an additional $2 off.  So for $3.99 this foundation was a great deal!




    The colour I choose was 105 (Classic Ivory).  It was the lightest shade available and it looked a little darker than the lightest colour I buy in the Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 foundation.  The 105 colour however matched my skin tone beautifully.  The foundation is oil free and won't clog pores.  It also boosts a flawless, natural look that lasts all day and reduces shine.

    This foundation blends easily into the skin and provides a medium coverage.  I did find that my normally really shiny skin was toned down and the foundation lasted all day.  No slipping or wearing off.

    For the price, this is a great foundation.  My preference however is for a more full coverage foundation as I feel it better disguises my imperfections.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    China Glaze Santa Red My List Nail Polish

    I recently placed an order with Nail Polish Canada and wanted to share one of the nail polish colours I got.  The colour is by China Glaze and is called Santa Red My List.  The name is a bit misleading as you would think it is a red nail polish. The colour is actually more of a deep pink with lots of shine and shimmer.



    This formula is amazing! It took only one coat to cover.  I love polishes that have a great colour payoff with little effort.




    This was my first time using a China Glaze polish and I was impressed.  I would definitely purchase from this brand again.

    Monday, September 8, 2014

    Banana Bran Muffins

    I found a really great recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins that I love and tweaked it a bit to create these banana bran muffins.  They meet my criteria of a good muffin: rise nicely, moist and come away from the paper liner cleanly.



    Ingredients:
    1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup sugar
    2/3 cup bran
    2 tbsp. wheat germ
    1 tsp. baking powder
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1 egg
    1/2 cup canola oil
    1/2 cup buttermilk
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas)

    Directions:
    1.  In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, bran, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
    2.  In another bowl, whisk the egg, oil, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add the mashed bananas to the mixture.
    3.  Stir wet ingredients into dry mixture just until moistened.
    4.  Fill paper lined muffin cups.
    5.  Bake at 350ºF for 22-25 minutes.

    Yield: 12 large muffins


    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    Monday, September 1, 2014

    Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

    I saw some mini ice cream cones in the store the other day and decided to make ice cream cone cupcakes.  I've seen them around on-line and they looked really cute so decided to give them a try.



    Ingredients:
    1 boxed cake mix, any flavour
    Flat bottom ice cream cones
    1 tub of icing

    Directions:
    1.  Prepare boxed cake mix as per instructions on the box.
    2.  Place ice cream cones on a cookie sheet.  Fill each cone about 2/3 full.  Be careful not to fill too full as they will run over like I found out the hard way!
    3.  Bake as you would cupcakes (per instructions on boxed cake mix).
    4.  Let cool and ice with favourite flavour of icing.

    Monday, August 25, 2014

    Peanut Butter Cookies

    I've been experimenting with peanut butter cookies recipes that have a criss-cross pattern on them.  The recipes I've tried yielded a dough that was too soft to make the criss-cross pattern until I came across the absolutely perfect recipe on line!


     This dough is stiff enough to make the classic criss-cross pattern.  The finished cookie tastes great: crispy around the edges and soft and chewy in the middle.  This will be my new go-to peanut butter cookie recipe.

    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup room temperature butter
    1 cup peanut butter
    1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 room temperature egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    Directions:
    1.  Cream the butter then add the peanut butter.
    2.  Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and beat until fluffy.
    3.  Beat in egg and vanilla.
    4.  Mix in the flour and baking soda until blended.
    5.  Roll dough into balls and apply criss cross pattern using a fork.
    6.  Bake at 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.


    Recipe Source:

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    Lancome Grandiose Mascara

    I received the Lancome Grandiose mascara to review courtesy of Influenster.  The mascara tube is bell shaped at the bottom and a little larger than the usual mascara tube.  For me it will take up more space to store.  It does have a cute rose in the wand portion of the glass-like tube.


    The wand of the mascara is unique in that is a "swan neck" wand.  It helps to reach all lashes from corner to corner and root to tip.  I did like this feature of the wand as it can be turned at different angles to easily reach all my lashes.


    The brush is shorter than most mascara wands but it does not interfere with the ease of ability to apply the product.  I found the mascara really helped to lengthen my lashes.


                                                                 Left eye with mascara, right eye without


                                                                  Both eyes with mascara


    Overall, I did like this mascara especially for its lengthening effect.  It was easy to apply but I did find it clumped somewhat.  I would call this a high-end brand mascara and I expected the formula to be clump-free.  This mascara retails for $35 CAD which I find steep for a mascara.  I feel there are other brands on the market that are much cheaper and do just as good of a job.  I would give this product 4 stars out of 5.


    I received free product from Influenster to facilitate this review.

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    Macaroni & Cheese Hot Dog Casserole

    This casserole has been a favourite of my family for many years. I'm not sure where the recipe came from but my mom has been making it since I was a child.  It is quick and easy to make as well as satisfying.


    Ingredients:
    1 box of Kraft Dinner
    1 can of condensed tomato soup
    1 small onion
    1 package of wieners (12 count)
    olive oil

    Directions:
    1. Dice the onion and cut the wieners into small disks.  Fry in       small amount of olive oil.
    2.  In a sauce pan, cook the macaroni from Kraft Dinner package.
    3.  Drain water from macaroni.
    4.  Add can of tomato soup, cheese package from Kraft Dinner and wieners/onions to cooked macaroni.
    5. Place mixture in a casserole dish.
    6. Bake in a 375ºF oven for 20 minutes.

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Dove Go Sleeveless Deodorant

    I recently tried the Dove Go Sleeveless deodorant in the Beauty Finish scent.  The scent is light and almost floral like, very pleasant.  According to the dove.ca site this deodorant boosts it has NutriumMoisture technology which effectively nourishes your skin, going beyond 48-hour odour and wetness protection for softer, smoother armpits in just 3 days.



    Unfortunately I found that this deodorant did not provide 48 hour wetness and odour control.  I went to an outdoor picnic when the weather was hot and at the end of the day I was not smelling too fresh! It did control wetness however, just not odour.

    I did find that I had softer, smoother armpits after using this deodorant which lives up to its claims about this property of the product.

    Being a deodorant specially targeted to allow you to feel more confident in wearing sleeveless tops, I found that the deodorant goes on clear even though it is a solid white stick.  That's a plus when wearing sleeveless tops.  I did however find that it leaves white marks on dark clothing which I was disappointed with.

    Overall, I usually use Dove deodorants and was happy to test this product but will probably stick to my regular dove deodorants rather than purchasing the Go Sleeveless variety.


    I received free product from ChickAdvisor to facilitate this review.

    Friday, August 8, 2014

    Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Coconut Frosting

    Recently we've had an abundance of zucchini from the garden.  So what better to do with zucchini than bake with it!  I've made this recipe a number of times and it is enjoyed by the whole family.  It produces a 9"x13" cake that it moist and delicious.




    The recipe can be found here:
    http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chocolate-zucchini-cake-with-coconut-frosting

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Toothpaste

    I always look for a whitening toothpaste and was happy to see that this toothpaste not only whitened teeth but also had an enamel strengthening property.  The front of the package reveals that the toothpaste has a combination of baking soda, peroxide and liquid calcium.  The back of the package states that this toothpaste "helps remove surface stains for whiter teeth.  Helps remineralize tooth enamel restoring its shine and smoothness.  It aids in the prevention of dental decay".



    This toothpaste had a pleasant minty flavour and really left my mouth feeling fresh and clean.  I would say my mouth felt fresher compared to other toothpastes I have used.  I was very impressed with this feature of the product!

    The product claims to yield a radiant smile in just 5 days.  I didn't really notice a more radiant smile or any improved whitening of my teeth over other products.  Despite this I would still continue to use this toothpaste and purchase it in the future. I just loved how fresh my mouth felt after using this toothpaste.  Overall, I would recommend this product to others.

    I received free product from ChickAdvisor to facilitate this review.


    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Montagne Jeunesse Dead Sea Mud Spa Mask

    I tried the Montagne Jeunesse Dead Sea Mud Spa mask.  It contains real mud, dead sea and sea kelp.  The mask is a fabric mask which fits onto your face with holes for your eyes, nose and mouth.



    The mud is infused into the fabric which makes it less messy to apply then a mud mask from a tube and using your fingers.  The steps for using this mask include cleansing your face, applying the mask, waiting 10-15 minutes and then removing the mask and rinsing your face.  I did find that the mask did not harden like a typical mud mask.  I missed the feeling of having the mask dry on my face and tightening my pores.

    After rinsing the mask off my face I noticed that my face felt soft, smooth and somewhat tight.  I have oily skin so I didn't mind the tight feeling.  Maybe the mask was tightening my pores after all!

    Overall I enjoyed this mask and would use it again.