PopSugar Must Have February Sneak Peek!!

So excited for the February box to arrive!  Just this morning I was thinking that maybe I would splurge on some fancy underthings for Valentines Day and then I got this sneak peek email from PopSugar for the February box.  They changed the billing and shipping system so that the boxes will arrive earlier in the month from now on so I should get this gift card with plenty of time to get myself something fun.popsugar-sneak-peek-february-2016

Being the month of all things LOVE, of course I was expecting something luxuriant, especially after getting the February inspiration below.  So excited to see what else they have in store for us!!!!  Want your own box?  And to take advantage of this awesome surprise?  Sign up now.

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Wantable Review – January 2016

If you haven’t heard about Wantable yet, it is a subscription service catering to a few different categories, Fitness, Makeup, Intimates, Accessories & Style.  I chose to try out the Style Edit service which is very similar to Stitch Fix, in that you have a personal stylist who hand picks 5 items for you to try on.

This is my second edit and I kept 2 items instead of just the 1 from my first shipment, so I’m anxious to see how they evolve over time.  And I have to apologize for the bad quality photos.  I got the shipment the day before leaving to go out of town so inside lighting and iPhone were the only options last minute.

 

Black Tunic Top – $54

This is apparently supposed to be a top, but it was definitely long enough that it fit me like a dress.  I’m curious if I need to size down my style profile preferences (I’m signed up for medium but may need small) but I’m not sure if I want to because I absolutely LOVE this top as a dress!  I tried it out dressed up and down and know it will pair great with leggings as well.  This made the whole edit worthwhile in my opinion, but there’s more so stay tuned! STATUS: Kept.wantable-olive-oak-tunic-top-dressed-down wantable-olive-oak-tunic-top-dress-back wantable-olive-oak-tunic-top-dress

Jack French Terry Striped Top – $60

This top was made from a super soft french terry material and had a high low cut that I normally fall for, but I’m not a huge fan of earth tones, so the colors weren’t especially exciting for me and it cost $60.  To me, I need a little more pizzazz to pay that much money for a top. STATUS: Returned.

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Hooded Popover Grey – $62

This hoodie was a chunky yarn knit material with a high low hem and a lined pocket.  It was super cozy and I loved that it was a hoodie but it felt like you could dress it up. However, I own so many hoodies from my clothing line already and have been experimenting with making some thick knit sweaters and cardigans myself.  I just kept thinking, I could make this. So… STATUS: Returned.

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KLD Sleeveless V-Neck Tunic – $38

I loved the fit of this top and it’s that same super soft material I loved from the tunic top, but like I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of earth tones, so the olive green just didn’t work for me.  I especially feel like it clashed with my hair.  It worked with a cardigan over it, but I hate getting pieces that can only be worn one way. If it had been another color, I would have kept it, but unfortunately…  STATUS: Returned.

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Jack Nivea Jacket – $75  $59

This jacket instantly caught my eye.  The colors are a little neutral for my normal palette, but I loved the pattern and the shawl details of the collar.  I couldn’t decide if it was worth keeping a jacket if I preferred it better when left open, but when I went online to checkout I saw it had been marked on sale, so I couldn’t pass it up. STATUS: Kept.

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Want to get your own Wantable edit? Take the style quiz and schedule your first box of fun! :)

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Stitch Fix Review – December 2015

Ok.  Yep, it’s January and I’m posting a review for December.  December was crazy and I guess there wasn’t any rush to get pictures taken, because SPOILER ALERT: I kept it all!!

If you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix, it’s a really fun personal styling service.  You fill out a style profile and then the system matches you with a stylist who hand selects 5 items to ship to you however often you want.  You can schedule just one fix or sign up for automatic fixes.  I schedule mine monthly.  I definitely recommend it.  So fun!  If you decide to sign up, please consider using my referral link so I can keep bringing you content like this! So… let’s check out all the amazing goodies they sent me this month!

Market & Spruce Sam Hi-Lo Tee in Gray

I had told my stylist I needed some good basics and this one is perfect!  I love the material and the cut plus the color is unique.  STATUS: Kept.

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Jules Smith Fringe Pendant Necklace

I’ve been on the hunt for a necklace with fringe or a tassel but haven’t liked the basic options I’ve come across.  This one is perfect.  It’s gorgeous in person (I’ve gotten compliments every time I wear it) and instantly makes any basic outfit much more stylish.  It was a little out of my normal price range, but I had told my stylist Katy that would be ok if it was something she thought I would really like (and I did).  STATUS: Kept.

 

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Henry & Belle coated skinny jeans

I absolutely LOVED the coated jeans she sent me in my November Fix and told her to send me another pair if she could find them in another color.  These pants are what she sent me, olive green coated skinnies with moto style zippers.  I normally don’t do earth tones but for some reason when I put these pants on with tall boots, I feel like a rockstar.  These are pricey for me for a pair of jeans, but since I was keeping all 5 items, I got the Keep all 25% discount so I decided they were worth it.  STATUS: Kept.

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Skies are Blue Fringe Detail Poncho

And now for the star of the fix!  I spotted this poncho on someone else’s pinterest board and added it to mine literally days before Katy styled my fix.  So when I saw it included in my box, I nearly squealed.  And Katy was so cute in her note that she said she squealed when she saw it was available.  It’s little details like that, that make this service so awesome.  Anyway, I love the print on this poncho and the fringe at the bottom.  It’s a double knit material so it’s heavy enough that it’s warm even without sleeves.  I hope to be able to use this one year round. STATUS: Kept!!!!!stitch-fix-december-skies-are-blue-fringe-detail-poncho-front stitch-fix-december-skies-are-blue-fringe-detail-poncho

Sequin Sleeve Dress

I got so excited seeing this dress in my box!  This fix actually came about a week before New Years Eve so it was absolutely perfect timing.  I hadn’t thought to ask for a New Years Eve dress, but Katy still delivered!!  I love the back slit detail and that the sequins are super fun but not overwhelming.  It’s a dress I feel like I can wear again instead of having to retire it after the champagne pops. :)  STATUS: Kept.

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If you’re ready to try out your own Fix, get started by filling out your own Style Profile!

Wantable Review – December 2015

 

I know. I know.  It’s almost the end of January and I’m posting a review for December.  Expect a few more too.  Let’s just say that December got a little hectic. So prepare for back to back posts as I catch up.  So, first, let’s talk Wantable.

If you haven’t heard about Wantable yet, it is a subscription service catering to a few different categories, Fitness, Makeup, Intimates, Accessories & Style.  I chose to try out the Style Edit service which is very similar to Stitch Fix, in that you have a personal stylist who hand picks 5 items for you to try on.  You keep what you want and send back the rest in the pre-paid envelope.  Main differences, with Wantable, you have 5 days to try on the pieces and make your decision instead of the 3 with Stitch Fix and unlimited characters to use in your note to your stylist.  However, you don’t get styling suggestions with Wantable a la the Stitch Fix style card.  Both have a non-refundable $20 styling fee that is applied to your purchase if you choose to keep any of the pieces.

 

BB Dakota Drape Cardigan

I really liked this cardigan.  It was made with alternating rows of black and white yarn to give it the overall pattern / gray appearance and the shawl collar made you feel all cozy and wrapped up. I loved the length of the sleeves and the overall length of the cardigan itself.  My only problem was that it wasn’t super soft.  I’m all about a cute sweater or cardigan but comfort is key.  I went back and forth trying to decide whether to keep this piece.  If I hadn’t gotten a 5/5 fix the day after my Wantable box arrived, I probably would have…. but ultimately, this one got sent back. STATUS: Returned.

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Lumiere Button-Back Tunic Top

LOVE this top.  It has a high – low style going on that makes it the perfect basic to layer or use as a stand alone. It’s long enough in the back that it completely covers my butt so I’ve been pairing it with leggings and jeans, under cardigans, dressed up, down.  It really is the perfect piece.  It’s super soft (and we now know how important that is to me) but the buttons on the back class it up just enough to make it totally versatile.  Plus it was only $34.  This one was a no-brainer: STATUS – Kept.

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BB Dakota Sueded Fringe Jacket

I thought this black jacket was pretty cute and obviously my stylist took a look at my pinterest board because fringed jackets have been sharing the spotlight there lately, however it isn’t really a true jacket.  It’s a lightweight material that isn’t warm enough to act like a jacket in Colorado winter and the fringe is cut into the main body of the fabric, therefore it doesn’t actually cover past my waist down.  I think it would be a super fun summer festival piece over a sundress or tank, but then I figured I wouldn’t want it to be sueded.  Overall I just didn’t feel like it was worth $125 to me.  STATUS: Returned.

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Faux Leather Sueded Drape Jacket

This is one of those open ‘jackets’ with the buttons on each so that you can secure it into an asymmetrical drape look or leave open as a cardigan. I’ve seen something similar floating around the Stitch Fix groups and I think they’re cool, but just not really me.  This one had a hood as well which I normally appreciate, but it didn’t seem to go with the style.  Otherwise, the material was really nice and it was comfortable.  I just decided I didn’t need another basic layering piece.  STATUS: Returned.

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RD Style Scuba Neck Poncho

Just mention the word poncho these days and I’m most likely already sold.  However, the material on this didn’t seem appropriate for a poncho.  It was a little thicker which made it somewhat stiff and didn’t drape properly.  The end result looked a little tent-like instead of poncho-like.  The view from the back is cute but the view from the front makes me look gigantic.  Not flattering.  STATUS: Returned.

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Final Verdict: For the first attempt from a new stylist / service, I think they hit it pretty close to the mark on my style.  They obviously either picked up that I like gray and black or they were just playing it safe and she definitely took the time to look thru my pinterest board.  Honestly, it ended up being more material issues for most items.  And when I think about my first Fix, it wasn’t even close to my style, so I have to say they seem to be on the right track faster.  Plus I absolutely love my new black tunic top.  It is on heavy rotation these days, which makes the whole edit worthwhile.  Going to have to do some more research / ahem, shopping before I make any final decisions. 😉  Want to get your own Wantable edit? Take the style quiz and schedule your first box of fun! :)

35 before 35 Progress Check and DietBet!

Ok, so I didn’t make any New Years Resolutions… but that’s because I technically made 35 annual promises on my 34th birthday.  35 things I would accomplish or create a habit of doing before my 35th birthday (August 6th).  If you haven’t read my 35 before 35 list, go check it out so you can follow along, get inspired or just heckle me from afar. 😉  There’s officially less than 7 months to complete my list now and only 5 of them have been completely crossed off, so it’s time to take a hard look at what I need to focus on.

 

That’s why when I saw a friend post about DietBet and the challenge she was doing, I decided to hop on board.  Here’s the deal: DietBet is a program where you bet that you can meet your own goal.  Technically you are only competing against yourself…. HOWEVER, if you DO meet your goal, the pot is split between EVERYONE who met their goal.  What happens if everyone does meet their goal?  Everybody gets their money back, fair and square.  BUT what happens if some people DON’T meet their goal??  Well… that money gets added to the pot of people who did.

Normally I wouldn’t think of doing a program like this, but the challenge I joined is to lose 4% of your total weight in a month.  For me that number is 5.7 lbs.  Considering I gained 10 lbs over the holidays (no joke, I was horrible) and wasn’t in my best shape going into the holidays, I KNOW I can do this.  So, basically I’m bribing myself to get back in shape and in the process hopefully I will….

–  Kickoff my training for my marathon I signed up for in May to complete #1. Run a marathon

–  Get in exercise on the way to work by getting in the habit of #3. Ride my bike to work more (even in the winter).

–  Work towards #10. Re-develop an exercise ‘habit’ and make it part of my lifestyle.

–  Improve on #17. Drink more water.  — And I’ve already been better at this on day 1 of me joining the challenge, so I’m hopeful!

–  And who knows, I may win some money to help me towards my goal of: #9. Pay off my credit card debt.

So basically, I see no bad angle to how this could turn out.  If I meet my goal, worst case scenario is I get back my $35… best case??  Well… the pot is up to $50,330.  And if I don’t meet my goal…. well let’s not go there.  I’m too competitive to not do this. :)  So join me on the New Year, New You with Amanda & Stephanie challenge if you want to get back in shape and have a chance to win some money too! :)  Plus, then we can cheer each other on.

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DIY Wine Cork Kitchen Mat

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Well I can finally cross this one off the 35 before 35 list and I could not be more happy with the end result.  This project has been on my todo list for literally 5 1/2 years, ever since I saw this post from Crafty Nest on her diy wine cork bath mat back in 2010.  Sometimes all you need is a little push from something like a todo list to finish off a project!  (Plus the task of drinking the wine is obviously a happy project requirement.)

My first attempt was back in October and I was just shy of finishing.  Somehow I hadn’t managed to save enough corks.  But never fear, there was holiday drinking to be done! :)  This is the first attempt below.

Wine Cork Mat

I was pretty happy about the way it turned out but being short on corks turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The mat lays right where my dogs (who both wanted to make sure they were included in the photos) turn to go outside and the corks soon started popping off all over the place.

So the re-do would have to be a little more secure.  Here’s what we did:

Built a frame out of beetlekill pine with a plywood base and then re-secured the plastic line with gorilla glue.

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Since we were building out a frame, I decided we should take it a step further and make it cushy on the feet like a chef mat so we then cut 5 layers of foam mesh shelf liner and glued those with gorilla glue as well. Then it was time to glue the corks!

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To prep the corks, I cut them in half lengthwise.  This makes more surface to glue to the base as well as cuts the number of corks necessary in half. I used a pocket knife to do this, but whatever you use, be very careful not to let the corks slip out and get your finger instead!  I then sanded the bottom of each cork by rubbing it across sandpaper, but I’m not sure if this step was necessary with the foam mesh.  Up to you!  Then we glued each cork to the mat one by one.  Try to match up the height of the corks by row as much as possible to avoid fit issues.

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When we got to the end, it was impossible to fit them exactly without cutting extra corks into pieces, but you don’t even notice without staring at it first.  And voila, the finished product!!  So far, we’re going on 2 weeks and no missing corks yet!  Hoping that this mat lasts a long time.  AND it is super comfy to stand on!

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Hope it inspires you to create your own wine cork project.  If you do, I’d love to see pics!

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PopSugar Must Have Box – December 2015

Yes, I know it’s January and I’m posting my December box reveals.  Someone got a little behind with holiday craziness at the shop, so just look forward to some back to back posts.  If you haven’t heard of or tried out PopSugar Must Have, it’s like Christmas on your doorstep every month!  They deliver a mix of full size products ranging from lifestyle, beauty, home goods, fashion, food & bonus surprises!  I’ve gotten some of my favorite items I use every day from my PopSugar box.  If you want to try it out, click here and I’ll get credit for your referral!  So… what did they deliver in December??

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This month’s goodies:

Swing Designs Nova Blue Mist Leatherette Jewelry Box – this is basically a pretty Tiffany Blue leather exterior and white sueded interior.  I was a little bummed that there were no dividers, but I definitely will use it.  Especially to store all the pretty jewels I’ve been getting from my subscriptions!

Stowaway Cosmetics Lipstick Trio – 3 miniature lipstick tubes perfect for the “girl on the go”.  At first glance, this was my least favorite item in the box.  I’m just more of a gloss gal and I’m starting to get a hoarder level stash of small lipsticks since I never use the ones I get in Birchbox or Ipsy.  However, I decided to at least try one before passing judgement and I actually REALLY like the color of one of them.  Plus the texture was nice too.  I will probably still either hoard the other 2 or give them to friends, but having a lipstick color I actually think looks nice on me is pretty fun. :)

Luv AJ Rose Gold Ombre Bracelet – Chunky chain bracelet with mix of rose gold, silver and gold finishes.  Perfect to be able to wear with any outfit or any jewelry combo.This bracelet was designed exclusively for Pop Sugar which is always fun to have an exclusive!

Nina Oberoi Lunares Geometric Wine Stopper – This wine stopper is chic and cool, and just so happens to match the candlestick holders from the Special Edition Holiday for Her box.  Only problem is that we never leave a bottle of wine open around this house for too long.  I’ve already tested it and it looks cool with a permanent home in one of my New Belgium bombers, but maybe I’ll have to leave a little bit of wine from time to time just to be able to show this beauty off! :)

Meri Meri Silver Stars White Glitter Tape – This tape is super cute.  If you know me, you know I love stars and glitter.  I just hope I remember to use it.  Things like this normally live in my “I have so many good ideas for you” pile of craft supplies for a while before I actually take advantage.

My Cup of Cake Classic Belgian Chocolate – Basically a packet of delicious.  Someone got smart after seeing all the “it’s so easy to make a cake in a cup” posts on pinterest and made it even easier + gourmet. Belgian Chocolate soufflé awaits me… but I haven’t tried it yet as I’m trying to finish up all my xmas goodies before they expire, so I can’t give the big thumbs up or down for sure on this.

BONUS: Tiny Prints Gift Stickers & $20 gift certificate – A fun little bonus, I plan on ordering a custom notepad or some address labels with the gift card.

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Stitch Fix Review – November – Take 2!

Two Stitch Fix deliveries in one month!??!!  Yep!!  TECHNICALLY, I received the last fix on the 31st of last month, but I didn’t get to try everything on til the next day because of Halloween.  And this fix wasn’t supposed to get here until the end of the month either, but I got greedy and wanted my goodies before Thanksgiving!!

I’m glad I did, because the pants I received will definitely be paired with my Happy Holla Days sweatshirt like the main pic for Thanksgiving Day!  And the fix showed up right at the end of a pretty stressful week.  Nothing like a little no stress at home shopping spree to cheer you up. If you haven’t heard of Stitch Fix, it’s a really fun personal styling service.  You fill out a style profile and then the system matches you with a stylist who hand selects 5 items to ship to you however often you want.  You can schedule just one fix or sign up for automatic fixes.  I schedule mine monthly.  I definitely recommend it.  So fun!  If you decide to sign up, please consider using my referral link so I can keep bringing you content like this!  Now onto the good stuff…

Liverpool Maisy Coated Skinny Jeans – $78

I had been asking for a pair of faux leather leggings or pants pretty much since I started Stitch Fix.  The last couple fixes, Katy sent me 2 different pairs of faux leather leggings and I loved the Lysse leather leggings she sent in my last fix but just wasn’t willing to to come to terms with the price tag.  I reluctantly told my stylist Katy to call off the search, so I was SOOO excited to open my fix and see these coated skinny pants in the box.

You can’t tell as well from the first picture, but scroll down to the second picture and you can see that they are almost as shiny as the leather leggings, but super stretchy and super comfy so I didn’t run into any of the fit issues I had with the other pairs.

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I chose to style them here with my favorite new Happy Holla Days Sweatshirt from Akinz.  These 2 items combined are possibly my newest favorite and most comfortable outfit.  Hello Thanksgiving outfit!!  Super cute and still plenty of room for all the stuffing. 😉

STATUS: Most definitely KEPT!! (and have worn twice)

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Bay to Baubles Cedar Tassel Pendant Necklace – $34

When I first saw the name of the necklace on the style card, I was so excited!  I’ve been wanting a tassel necklace and I love my Bay to Baubles earrings I got from my first fix so I had high hopes.  However, it was just a little too much for me with the 5 different tassels.  I thought about keeping it and cutting off the extra tassels, just leaving one, but that felt a little silly, plus I worried I would end up breaking the whole thing and then be left with nothing.

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I finally decided that it was a matter of if I decided to keep the other items and could get the 25% discount you get if you decide to keep all 5 items, but since I sent some back…

STATUS: RETURNED.

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Market & Spruce Brookline Mix Material Sweater

This sweater was the exact same color as one I had pinned so when I first saw the color, I thought it was the loose button back sweater with elbow patches I had seen, so I have to admit when I realized it wasn’t that sweater, I already started out a little disappointed, but I tried to keep an open mind.

I did really like that knit on the sweater was inside out so that it looked a little textured, however the fit on it was too tight for my liking.  I have long arms and I like my sleeves to be long, so these felt like they fell a little short.  I ended up pushing them up some, but that felt like it defeated the purpose of a winter sweater.  I also thought about the idea of putting a long sleeve shirt underneath, but the sleeves were way too tight to fit anything underneath but possibly a camisole.

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The back detail was pretty cool, the zipper went all the way up or could be adjusted to whatever look you want.  I thought it was nice in the middle to create a little bit of fit and flare.  However, I still felt like it was a little too ‘business in the front, party in the back’ and I really prefer oversized/loose sweaters so I decided to hold out.

STATUS: RETURNED.

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Skies are Blue Simmaron Sequin Blouse – $58

This was another squee moment when I opened the box.  I had recently pinned some sequin pants and a sequin detail blouse, so obviously I have sequins on my mind.  The back of this one is also really pretty and definitely has some of that ‘Wow Factor’ for a holiday party.

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And the front has flowy rows of champagne colored sequins that I loved, but I didn’t love the fit.  This is the second Skies are Blue top that I’ve received that just feels way too short and wide so I’m thinking their fit guide just doesn’t fit my long torso body.

STATUS: RETURNED.

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Market & Spruce Julee Sleeveless Fringe Cardigan – $58

I absolutely LOVED the Blake Poncho Pullover sweater I got in my last fix, so I asked Katy for a redo, but add FRINGE! :)  They didn’t have any fringed ponchos in stock, so she sent this sleeveless waterfall cardigan to try out instead.  The sleeveless part definitely threw me.  I think it would be super cute with a summer dress or tank but I wasn’t really sure where to start for styling a sleeveless cardigan in the winter.  The style card pictured this styled over a plain sweater or a long sleeve shirt dress, but I didn’t have anything like that.  I chose to try it out with a plain tank and flares.
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I took to pinterest to search for some cute ways to work this baby into my winter wardrobe and saw some pretty cute looks with fairly basic long sleeved tees.  Knowing I have some new Akinz long sleeve tees coming out soon, I decided I could justify keeping it. :)

STATUS: KEPT

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Overall this fix is a 2/5 but I really love the 2 pieces I decided to keep.  I am so excited about my new coated skinnies… Katy seriously hit the nail on the head! If you’re looking to expand your wardrobe, get surprise boxes of goodies and perhaps be pushed outside your style comfort zone, sign up for your own fix here.

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PopSugar Must Have – November 2015

I received my favorite subscription box this week and had to share!  If you haven’t checked out PopSugar Must Have Box yet, you definitely should!  It’s like getting Christmas at your doorstep every month.  There are always over $100 worth of full size goodies (this one contained $152.95) and they deliver items based on a monthly theme from the categories of beauty, home, fashion and there is always a food item (which tends to be my favorite every month).  If you decide to try it out, let me know before you do!  I have 2 $10 off coupon codes available if you use my referral link by the end of the month.

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This month’s box was inspired by “Friends & Family, Gratitude, Gifting, Festivities”.  Of course the first thing I had to try out was the Terrapin Ridge Farms Pecan Honey Mustard
and it is delicious!
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My other favorite is the Capri Blue Mercury Jewel Box candle in rain.  The recycled mercury glass has little dots on the side so when it burns, it glows from the sides too.  I love it!  It’s glowing in my room as I write this post.

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The Deepa Gurnani headband (on the right below) is beautiful!  I pulled out the Deepa Gurnani necklace I received in my Special Edition Fall Box to see if they would go together for a holiday party.  It might be a little too much bling for me worn together, but I still love them both!  I can’t wait to do the Pinterest famous ‘Tuck & Cover’ easy undo with the headband for a night out.deepa-gurnani-headband-popsugar-must-have

The Bingo set was the random fun item this time around.  It comes with 10 reusable bingo cards and sheets of silver dots and numbers.  You pop out the numbers to use to draw and then cover the numbers as they are called with the silver dots.  I wasn’t super excited about this at first, but then thinking about Thanksgiving coming up, I realized it would be a perfect game for family or friends giving gatherings without disrupting conversation and of course, wine drinking so I’m excited to host my own little bingo nights.

popsugar-must-have-box-bingo-set-candle bingo-popsugar-must-have

The other 2 items in the top picture were the Thanksgiving Postcard pack from Gramr Gratitude Co and the Tarte Cosmetics eyeshadow palette.  They are awesome too, but I have a small stockpile of eyeshadow stacking up from my Birchbox and Ipsy subscriptions so even though it’s a super nice $22 shadowbox, this was probably my least favorite from the November box.

If you love this box and want to get one for yourself, I think the November box is still available but like I said, make sure you let me know first to get $10 off your box (Normally $39.95/month).

Adventures in Making Tofu

If you’ve checked out my 35 before 35 annual bucket list, you may have giggled a little bit at #18: Try Making my own Tofu and wondered why the heck does she want to do that?  And to be honest, I wasn’t really sure why.  I wanted to add something about cooking to the list and my curiosity was sparked by a tofu cookbook that was gifted to me a few years ago.

asian-tofu-cookbook

I HIGHLY recommend this book if you are a tofu lover.  Not only are the recipes interesting and delicious, but there is so much more info than I can provide in one blog, including tips, troubleshooting, etc.  If you want the book, it’s available on Amazon here: Asian Tofu. The batter fried tofu recipe on page 116 has been a part of my recipe rotation for a while now, so much so that the book almost automatically opens to that page and it’s full of oil splatters and dried batter bits.  I haven’t really delved into many of the other recipes though and partly because they called for other types of tofu, ones that had their own recipes listed at the front of the book.  We’ve been eating a lot of tofu lately (it’s been on weekly rotation) so I decided I needed to bite the bullet and jump into the tofu making world.

I blocked off a night, whipped out my new tofu-making kit and got ready to make some magic happen… til I realized I had to soak the beans for 12 hours before I could get started.  Tip #1: Read ahead.  Tofu would have to wait.  A couple days later (and better prepared) I tried again.  The basis of any type of tofu is soy milk, so the first section is all about how to make your soy milk from scratch.  If you wanted to take a shortcut in your tofu making, you can use store bought soy milk, but it must be organic with no flavoring and you’ll be starting with 8 cups soy milk as opposed to 1 cup soybeans, so the price tag of your homemade tofu will most definitely go up.

Supplies Needed:

  • organic soybeans
  • blender
  • 2 pots (1 large, 1 medium)
  • metal sieve or colander & strainer
  • wooden spatula
  • tofu coagulant (I used the Nigari that came in my kit).
  • tofu mold.  You can get creative but I bought a bamboo mold. See link above.

Making the Soymilk: Soak 1 cup beans for up to 17 hours (colder temps require the most soaking). After soaking the beans, you start by making your soy bean ‘milkshake’.  Set up a large pot with 5 cups water on the stove to start warming up.  Mix the soaked beans with 2 cups water in a blender for 1-2 minutes and then pour the mixture into the pre-heated pot.  Add another 1/2 cup of water to the blender, turn back on to get the last bits and then scrape into pot.

tofu-bean-milkshake

Cook the mix, stirring frequently with a wooden spatula for 3-6 minutes, being careful not to scorch.  The milk foam will start to rise and look like whipped egg whites. When the foam rises, it’s time to turn off the stove and remove from heat. Stir a few times and wait for the foam to settle a bit before moving on.

tofu-foam

You should have a second smaller pot set up in the sink with a colander or metal sieve set up inside the pot.  Drape your pressing cloth (a piece of muslin is perfect) over the strainer.  Now you can pour the milk into the colander.  Pour slowly and pause if needed to allow the milk to drain.  Let cool a couple minutes unless you have leather skin as it will be really hot.  Then wrap the muslin into a little sack and press & squeeze it until all the milk is extracted.  You can open it up and add a tiny bit more water (stir up the lees with your spatula) and then squeeze again.  The following pic is the Soy Milk Lees before the first pressing.

soy-milk-lees-pre-pressing

To make sure the soybean protein is fully digestible, you will now have to cook the soy milk a second time.  So return the pot to the stove and bring to a simmer (medium high heat).  Once you get some small percolating bubbles, reduce the heat to maintain the gentle cooking for 5 minutes. Stir often. Turn off the heat and let cool for a couple minutes, continuing to stir in a ‘Z’ pattern. After this second cooking, you have soy milk! You can use it for drinking, cooking or tofu making at this point.

Making the tofu:  To turn your soy milk into tofu, you’ll have to curdle the milk, just like when making cheese.  This is where your Nigari comes in.  Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons with 1/2 cup water.  (I just mixed it in my measuring cup).

Step 1. Stir vigorously (‘Z’ pattern) and pour in 1/3 of the coagulant mix. Stop the spatula in the middle of the pot to stop the movement of the milk. Lift the spatula out.

Step 2. Sprinkle 1/3 of coagulant onto surface of milk. Cover pot and wait 3 minutes.

Step 3. Sprinkle remaining coagulant onto surface of milk. Gently stir across the topmost 1/2 inch of the milk for 20 seconds.  Re-cover pot and wait 3 minutes.

Now you should have a separation of yellow whey and lumpy white curds.  If there is any ‘milky’ water left, stir more and re-cover.  You will need to separate the whey from the curds.  Use your metal sieve or a strainer to press into the curds so that you can ladle out the whey. (You can save this to use as soup stock, water your plants, wash your dishes, etc). Once you have the majority of the whey separated, ladle the curds into your tofu mold.  I used the same piece of muslin from pressing (rinsed thoroughly) as my mold liner although having a few on hand would definitely be preferable.  Wet the muslin with a little bit of the whey before ladling in the curds.

separating-curds-whey-tofu

Once all the curds are in your mold, it should look something like the below pic. Now neatly fold the liner in (if you have big lumps, you will have a bumpy tofu surface) and then put the lid on top.  For firm tofu, place a 3 lb weight on top and let sit for 20 minutes.  I didn’t have a weight, so I stacked 3 16 oz cans of veggies.  Hey, if it works, it works. 😉  The less weight and time, the softer the tofu.

tofu-in-mold

Once the time is up, remove the tofu from the mold (my kit’s mold has a removable bottom so you just lift to expose the cloth wrapped tofu, then gently place the block into cool water to help you separate the tofu from the cloth.  I was pretty stoked to learn that my ‘Yay Lunch!’ bento lunch box I got from PopSugar Must Have made the perfect tofu keeper. :)

finished-tofu-popsugar-must-have

That’s it!  Now choose your favorite tofu recipe and enjoy!

Tofu Variation: Confetti Tofu  If you want to add a variation to your tofu, you can try the ‘confetti tofu’ I posted on my Instagram.  This is a really easy variation, but the curds did seem a little different, so I would suggest doing a plain block of tofu from start to finish first before venturing out to make sure you have your consistency right.

For Confetti Tofu, gather 2-3 of your favorite tofu-friendly veggies before you start your tofu process.  I chose mushrooms, peppers & shallots, but the book suggests green onions in place of the peppers which I have to admit I think would have been better.  Small dice your veggies and set them aside.

veggies-confetti-tofu

After the second cooking of your soy milk, right after you remove from heat, stir in your veggies while you are waiting for the milk to slightly cool.  Add the coagulant the same as listed above and now you will end up with curds mixed in with veggies and whey.  Strain the whey as before and ladle the curds and veggies into your mold together, breaking up clumps of veggies if you see them. When you’re done, you will end up with something that looks a little like this:

confetti-tofu

I thought the fun nature of the confetti tofu was definitely perfect for making my favorite batter fried tofu, so we cooked it up right away.  I was right, it was DELICIOUS.  Can’t wait to experiment with different veggie combos.  The book also recommends confetti tofu as panfried tofu steak.  Hope you have fun experimenting.  If you try it, let me know what you think!

confetti-tofu-fried