When Simple Birthday Parties Aren’t So Simple…

When Simple Birthday Parties Aren’t So Simple…

You’d think a child’s birthday party would be simple, wouldn’t you? Invite a few people, have some cake and maybe some snacks, call it a day. Well, like the saying goes, nothing worth having ever comes easily. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating my children and I love for friends and family to enjoy themselves. Please don’t take this mini-rant as a complaint or that I’m saying I don’t get enough help when planning things. I have a wonderfully helpful husband (and when I say helpful it’s not him “helping”… he loves me and our kids and shares in the load of everything), an amazing mom who’s always there and somehow knows how to help without even asking (thanks, mom… you rock!), and many other family members and friends who are the most helpful and caring people. Like my previous post of the mental load on mothers, wether they work outside the home or at home, the mental (and in this case, physical) load on the designated party planner is more than many people realize. Is it self-inflicted? Maybe… I always say that if something is worth doing, it’s worth over doing, so maybe I’m at fault here, so I’ll own it. This is just a little glimpse at why a simple child’s birthday party is anything but “simple”…

Months before the party, planning begins. What is the theme? Did someone else already have this theme (why the heck I care, I’m really not sure…)? How many people will be coming? Where will I get the invitations? How soon do I need to send the invitations? Are we having the same food we had last time? I need to make a food list for when I go grocery shopping…

Ok… theme planned. It will be construction equipment. Again. Why am I doing this theme again for the second child? Is that bad? Should he have all of his own themes? Nah… he won’t know the difference and I chose it because he likes construction equipment, so construction equipment it shall be. Ok, date? Preferably a Saturday after his actual birthday, since it’s on a weekday. Wait, where should we have it? Fortunately my grandmother graciously allows us to use her condo clubhouse which worked out perfectly last year, so we’ll go with that again. This way I don’t have to *gulp* cllleeeeeeannnn. Ok, at least that part is settled. Oh, but I need to contact them and see if that date is available and see when I need to get a check to them.

Alight, the date is available and we’re on the schedule. Order invites. Is it bad to use the same invites as his older brother? Yes. I say yes… so, let’s make sure I put all of the correct information before I place the order… that would be bad to have people showing up at the wrong place or coming to a 2nd birthday for our 5 year old. Check the invite 10 more times, ok… place in cart and…. order. Dang, that was expensive. Next? Decorations.

Looks like we never used even half of the construction hats last time, so we have those, caution tape, what does Amazon have? Ohhhhhhh… look how cute these little signs are! Wait, I have signs from last time. But these are different! They come with cupcake decorations! And balloons! Ok… place in cart. Look at the matching goodie bag coloring books! I wasn’t going to have goodie bags. But these are so cute! Place in cart… again. Promise, I’m done with decorations.

Oh crap… cake. Cake? Cupcakes? Fortunately, my amazingly talented friend makes the best cakes and cupcakes I’ve ever seen, so I’ll see if she’d like to do them. Cupcakes are easier, so we’ll do that. Oh, but our oldest had a super cute cake… is that bad if our youngest just gets cupcakes? No… cupcakes will do. Yay! She’s making the cupcakes, so I know those will be adorable AND delicious. Food?

We’ll do fruit and veggie trays, those always go fast, I’ll order pizza this time because that has to be cheaper than sandwich trays I usually do, chips, chip dip, tortilla chips… I’ll make a few things. Meatballs always go over well, so I’ll make those, buffalo chicken dip, my mom makes amazing pasta salad, so I think that covers everything. Drinks? A cola, an uncola, CapriSun for kids (and big kids…), bottled water, and I’ll make some of that lemon/cucumber/mint water people like so much. Ok… mentally noted all food, and place order for fruit and veggie trays… wait? What time should I pick it up? well, I’ll be setting up in the morning and the party is at 2, but I don’t want to get it too late. Ugh… 11:20? Sure. Why not. I’ll order the pizza closer to the party date.

Paper goods… how many tablecloths do I need? A lot. Maybe 5? Sure… 5 sounds good. Plates, cake plates, cutlery, cups, napkins. Is that it? I think so. Mentally noted all paper goods and I’ll head to Party City the week before the party.

Ok… even at half off the pizza will be significantly more than the sandwiches, so sandwiches it is and… go to place order and… pickup time? Crap. When was the last pickup time? *Check email* 11:20. Ok, 11:20 for this one too I guess.

Well, crap. The oldest has a basketball game at 1 and the party is at 2. Ok, Pop to the rescue while mom and dad will be running around like crazy before the party.

Set up the time to drop off the check and get the keys to the clubhouse at 9 am the day of the part. 9 am? Is that too early? Do I get ready first or after? Last year I got ready 10 minutes before the party in the bathroom of the clubhouse, so no… 9 am isn’t too early and I’ll get ready after.

Kroger saves the day… order pickup for all party food and everything is in stock (don’t judge… I am an order pickup mom… I’ll do whatever makes my life easier working full-time with two kids at this point…).

Ok, time for Party City purchases. Grab everything in coordinating colors and some cute balloons ordered and $120 later. Wait, $120 for plates, napkins, and cups? Dang… pickup time? What were the other pickup times? Sometime around 11 I think, so 12? Sure… 12 sounds good…

The day before the party, so time to pack literally EVERYTHING. Will all of this fit in the car?! Thank goodness for ginormous IKEA tarp bags! If you don’t have them, GET THEM. Ok, plates, napkins, cutlery, cups, bottles of pop, water, decorations, scissors, tape, string to hang/set up decorations, bowls to serve food. Now, set out all food ingredients and dishes for food that has to be made the day of the party. Meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, cut the lemon, cucumber, and mint for the water, and I think that’s it… I feel like I’m forgetting something.

Day of the party: load everything like I’m moving at 8 am, get gas, pick up 44 lbs of ice (yes, yes… my husband was right… we didn’t need that much ice, but hey… we didn’t run out, people!), pick up my trusty sidekick (aka mom) at 8:30 am, Starbucks line is too long, so I pretty will be nonfunctional for the remainder o the morning. Give the rental check, unload the car for what seems like an eternity, and start the setup. Thankfully set-up went quick, finally made it to Starbucks, and raced home to get ready.

Get ready and head to Kroger to pick up the food… late. Ok, sandwiches come out and… no vegetable or fruit tray, so I wait… and wait… and wait some more. They don’t have an order for a fruit or vegetable tray, but had a fruit tray made from yesterday and they’re working on the vegetable tray. And… wait some more. Text my husband to say “prepare yourself to go get balloons and the number 2 candle I totally forgot to pick up because they are SUPER late and we won’t make it”.

Finally get the vegetable tray and BOLT in the snow/rainy mess because of course the day you have a party the weather can’t just be sunny and pleasant. What fun would that be?! Run into the house, grab the meatballs, grab the buffalo chicken dip that I luckily premade and stuck in the fridge the previous day and shove it all in the back of the car with the rest of the food sliding around because I’m driving like Dale Earnhardt Jr. The birthday boy is still sleeping, so while my husband and I trade batons to finish this insane relay race, I wake him up, get him out of his pajamas, take the dog out because he’s now looking at me like I’ve lost my dang mind, get the birthday boy in the car, and pick up my mom who is waiting on me since my dad is now facilitating the pro basketball player at his weekly game.

Get to the party, set the rest of the food up, my amazing friend brings in her dirt cupcakes (seriously… SO cute!), and the party can now begin!

Now, the fun part… party time where you really don’t get a chance to chat with anyone (which is the best part of a party!), make sure you’re on time since you have rented the space only for so long, only to clean it all up, pack it all up haphazardly into multiple vehicles, and get home only to unload it all and try to figure out what to do with this jumble of party aftermath.

You guys… I’m tired from just writing this. And THAT is why a “simple” child’s birthday party is NEVER simple. Aren’t you so glad I laid it all out for you?

Party on, party people!

Valentine’s Day Hand and Footprint Craft

Valentine’s Day Hand and Footprint Craft

It’s almost Valentine’s Day… time to get crafty! I wrote this how-to a long time ago and never published it (fail… I have two kids… it gets hard, y’all…). It’s pretty simple, so there really isn’t much to explain, just to show! Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

Supplies

  • Canvas, board, or other display surface (Hobby Lobby to the rescue for this one!)
  • Paint (acrylic works great for this project)
  • Pom-poms of various sizes (if you’re making a bear)
  • Felt sticker decorations (if you’d like to use them, but they’re optional!)
  • Tiny hands and feet to make the prints
  • Directions

  • First, decide what kind of design you want-this is where Pinterest comes in. If you search for “Valentine’s Day handprint” or “Valentine’s Day footprint” the possibilities are endless… literally. Choose what you want, grab your paint and stickers and get crafty. They are fairly simple, cute, and kids always love to see their hand and footprints on wood or canvas. Happy Valentine’s Day!
  • At Home Microdermabrasion: Yay or Nay?

    At Home Microdermabrasion: Yay or Nay?

    Facebook ads got me again.  I can’t help it… I’m a sucker.  I kept seeing ads for the PMD Personal Microderm system.  I have always heard such positive things about microdermabrasion treatments from salons-your skin feels smoother, it absorbs product much better, and it allows your skin to regenerate much quicker with frequent microdermabrasion treatments.  But… (yes, there’s always a but) have you seen the price?!  Yikes.  No thanks.  Not to mention the time it takes to book an appointment, get the treatment, and then be hassled to purchase products you don’t want to buy.  Not signing up for that one.

    Of course someone has the answer to ALL of my problems.  And of course it just so happens to appear  in a Facebook ad.  I know it might not seem like I am from all of my posts containing Facebook ad products, but I am actually a very skeptical person who doesn’t like to purchase anything based on an ad.  So, I did my research, looked at countless reviews, took a detailed look at how the product actually works, put my science brain to work, and decided that the premise was sound, the price was… ridiculous, and thought I’d love to have one, but I’m not forking over the money for it right now.

    pmd
    Photo Credit: Sephora

    Fast forward a few weeks to Christmas Eve.  Here I am, scrolling through eyeshadow palettes on Sephora when BAM!  A featured product happens to be the PMD Personal Microderm Pro AND the PMD Clean facial cleanser in a bundle.  Now, I did determine that if I were to ever purchase the PMD Personal Microderm I would shell out the extra cash for the Pro version.  Why?  The Pro version contained two caps for face and body areas (not sure where the heck on my body I would use this thing, but whatevs) and had two speeds.  I liked that this particular version contained two speeds so you could actually control how abrasive the treatment would be.  I also had my eye on the PMD Clean because of its insanely great reviews.  The PMD Clean was also insanely overpriced, but now that it is bundled with the Personal Microderm it didn’t seem like that bad of a deal.  Naturally, I took the bait and purchased the bundle.  I’ll split this review into two sections: one for the PMD Personal Microderm Pro and one for the PMD Clean.

    PMD Personal Microderm Pro

    After unboxing the Personal Microderm Pro, it was quite intimidating.  The kit really didn’t come with any instructions, but a quick overview of what each part of the unit was, what it did, and to run the tip along your skin in an outward motion and not to hold the tip on any portion of your skin for a long period of time or  it would burn your skin.  Yeah… scary to say the least.  They have an online tutorial that may be followed, but ain’t nobody got time for that.  So, I figured I’d just go at it and if I burned the heck out of my face, oh well… I’ll heal.  Maybe.

    The unit included a training tip with very low abrasion, so that’s the first one I went with.  I also planned on using the lowest speed setting until I got used to the unit.  The instructions said that each tip may be used 3-4 times before changing to a new tip.

    I washed my face with my usual cleanser and made sure all of my makeup from the day was thoroughly removed and my face was dry.  Then, I set to work.  It really was very easy and surprisingly quick.  I moved in outward motions while keeping my skin tight as I moved down one side of my face, down the other side, and then worked on each side of my forehead.

    After I completed my entire face, which was surprisingly fast, I washed my face with my normal cleanser, followed with my usual toner, then followed with my usual moisturizer.  My face felt very soft and absorbed the toner and moisturizer much better than usual.

    I rinsed the cap and filter with water, made sure the top of the unit was wiped clean with a dry washcloth to prevent any clogging, then allowed the cap and filter to air dry before storing.  That was it.  Ok, so this might not be as daunting of a task as I was making it out to be.

    Fast forward about 5 weeks… I can’t imagine my life without this device.  Seriously!  To be a little thrifty, I used the lowest abrasion tip 3 times on the high speed setting, then have gradually moved up to a more abrasive tip every 3 uses.  This has seemed to work out well, so I’m sticking with this plan.  I use the PMD Pro every 6-7 days as recommended so as to not over-exfoliate (is that a word?  Probably not…).  Each time it gets easier since I’m now used to the entire process and can operate on autopilot for the most part.

    This device has so many benefits.  My skin is smoother than it has ever been before.  My skin tone is evening out and all hyper pigmentation from blemishes or sun spots is reducing every week as I use the PMD Pro.  All products I use on my face are absorbed so much better after using this device.  I did start to break out a little more than normal around week 3-4 since my skin seemed to be purging itself of all of the nastiness the PMD Pro is helping to get rid of, but other than that my skin seems to be moisturized and clearer than it’s been for years.  When I apply makeup in the mornings I don’t need as much moisturizer as I previously needed (which is a miracle, because… winter…) and my foundation goes on smooth and my skin looks much clearer than it used to.

    The only down side I can see to using this device is that you can only use a tip 3-4 uses.  But I think that’s a small price to pay for all of the benefits I see from using this product.  Time will tell in terms of the longevity of the device.  I have read reviews of consumers claiming the suction on the device stops around 6 months or so.  PMD does offer a year limited warranty and they seem to be pretty responsive to their customers (more on that in a minute… I haven’t been as lucky with my PMD Clean…).  I noticed that when customers complained about their device losing suction PMD’s trouble shooting tips seemed to include cleaning the device.  There aren’t any instructions on how to clean the device on the package that I can see other than to rinse the cap and filter, so I’d say that’s an oversight on their part.

    PMD Clean

    I never really saw the point of using something to scrub your face other than using your hands.  Can it really be THAT much better?  Yes, yes it can.  A few years ago I purchased a small device similar to the SOLO Mio from Amazon, but at a cheaper price point because I wasn’t ready to shell out $40 for something that scrubs my face.  Eh, it was ok.  I got kind of tired of having to charge it and it just got shoved to the back of my medicine like the rest of the gadgets I’ve purchased in the past.

    I just kept ignoring all of the Facebook ads with the PMD Clean because I figured how much better can this be than the SOLO Mio look alike I purchased a few years ago?  I looked at the reviews and there wasn’t a bad review on it.  Darn.  I decided to go to my favorite online shopping site… Amazon, of course.  $99?!?!  WHAAAAAT?!  Oh, heck no.  I just chalked it up to never owning one of these because of the insanely ridiculous price point. Well, when it was offered in the Holiday bundle from Sephora, the price was a little less shocking, so I went for it.

    I love that the device uses a single AA battery.  That saves time and cabinet space since you don’t have to recharge it or store its charger.  The PMD Clean has several speeds and pulsing speeds.  Personally, I’ve only used the lowest speed and that seems to do a great job.  My skin feels cleaner, I tend to wash my face longer, which gives me a better clean.  I do think the PMD Clean is helpful and useful, but the packaging leaves little to be desired.  There are no instructions on which speed level to use and for what purpose.  PMD claims that they have included instructions in the PMD Clean packaging, but customers seem to all be claiming the same thing: no instructions.

    A few weeks after using the PMD Clean the device would randomly turn on on its own for about half a second.  Huh?  I thought maybe the batteries were running low, since sometimes electronics malfunction when the batteries should be changed.  When I opened the device, milky looking liquid was pulled around the end cap.  Sooooo… these are waterproof, huh?  Apparently mine didn’t get the memo.  After trying to air dry the device for a few days, replacing batteries, checking the battery connections, and doing all kinds of troubleshooting, the device continued to turn on randomly on its own and wouldn’t even turn on most of the time unless I opened, then closed the battery compartment, and only stayed on for half a second once it would finally come on.

    I reached out to customer service on Facebook (just to let you know, they were more responsive to my comment on Facebook than they were to a direct company email) and I also contacted Sephora customer service.  Sephora customer service’s only solution for me was to return BOTH PMD products to the store for a refund, then to repurchase the kit.  Uhhhh, no thanks.  PMD Beauty customer service sent me a Facebook DM as well as an email.  The customer service rep told me they were shipping out a new PMD Clean that day with a return label for the defective device.  That was about… ten days ago.  I’m hoping they just have a long shipping time from the distribution center, because I assumed it would probably arrive in a week or so.  I’ll make sure to keep you posted on whether or not they actually send a replacement.  I’m not holding my breath…

    Get to the Point…

    Alright… after all of that rambling… would I recommend the PMD Pro and PMD Clean?  Yes.  Are they expensive?  Yes.  The PMD Pro has made a difference in the texture of my skin, helped fade hyperpigmentation, and allows my skin to absorb all of my facial products much better than normal.  It does what it says it will do, it’s easy to use, and is a great addition to anyone’s beauty routine to help skin regenerate every week.

    Cream Cheese & Spinach Baked Chicken

    Cream Cheese & Spinach Baked Chicken

    Chicken-Casserole-recipe
    Photo Credit: eatwell 101

    This is one of those recipes that I was hesitant to try, but it will now be a staple in our house.  Its simple ingredients are usually in our fridge and they’re easy enough to put together quickly.  I adapted this recipe that I came across from eatwell 101.  Check out the original recipe here!

     

     

     

    Ingredients

    • 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut horizontally
    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 2 cup spinach, rinsed
    • 4 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese (or more if you love cheese as much as we do!)

    The marinade:

    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    Directions

    1. Add olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper into a Ziplok bag. Seal the bag and shake until mixed. Add the chicken breasts, seal, and massage so the chicken breasts are covered in the marinade, set aside for 10-15 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400ºF.
    2. Rinse the spinach and place in a microwave safe bowl.  Wilt the spinach by microwaving the damp spinach until spinach is a dark color and wilted, set aside.
    3. Arrange chicken breasts drained from the marinade in a baking dish. Spread the softened cream cheese over the chicken breasts and lay spinach on top of the cream cheese. Finally, sprinkle mozzarella over the top.
    4. Bake the chicken for 20-30 minutes. The chicken spinach is done when cooked through to an internal temperature of 165˚F (75°C).

    I serve this chicken with quinoa or rice.  Make this on a busy weeknight-I hope you enjoy it!

    Review: Full Face of Makeup Dupes

    Review: Full Face of Makeup Dupes

    These makeup dupes were inspired (ok, ok… flat out stolen…) by Tati‘s FULL FACE OF DUPES | Drugstore vs. Highend YouTube video.  In her video, Tati completes a full face of drugstore makeup on one side and matches it flawlessly with high end makeup on the other side.  When I watched the video I was shocked at how closely she was able to match the high end side and I loved the look, so naturally, I had to try it myself.

    So, for this post I’ll be reviewing all of the dupe products I tried from Tati’s video and a few other drugstore brand suggestions Tati makes in various other video tutorials.  I won’t be comparing them to high end makeup, but reviewing them in general.  I have to hand it to Tati on this one, some of my new favorite products are in this list and… most of them are at a price point of around $5.99… what?!  Yes… $5.99.  I didn’t add the price of most of these items because they fluctuate so much between drugstores and Amazon. Before I purchase anything I usually compare the prices (and availability) between Meijer (I have one close by), Target, Ulta, and Amazon.  So… here we go!

    NYX Studio Perfect Primer (Clear)

    primer
    Photo Credit: Amazon

    Alright, we’ll start off with a primer.  I love Smashbox primer, but it’s SO EXPENSIVE.  It seriously works miracles, but I’ve never broken down and bought a tube because I don’t wear full coverage foundation enough to shell out the extra cash for a tube.  NYX Studio Perfect Primer is very similar to Smashbox, but at a much more wallet-friendly price point.  I was pretty pleased with the formula and I’m happy to use it instead of the pricier option.

     

    Wet n Wild Photofocus Foundation

    foundation
    Photo Credit: Wet n Wild

    Yes, I know, I know… I had a Wet n Wild nail polish in EVERY color of the rainbow as a kid and I used a different color on every finger, too, but Wet n Wild really has come a long way since then.  This foundation is $4.68 on Amazon.  Bam!  Ok, really, though… my new favorite foundation.  This formula goes on great with a Beauty Blender or brush and looks great all day.  I do tend to get a little oily toward the end of the day, but it holds up well especially for the price.  There are a variety of shade ranges (I think I might have chosen a shade a little too light for me, but for the price I can afford to get a few darker shades for the summer as well) and I think anyone can find a good match.  I’m curious to see how L’Oreal Infallible 24 HR holds up compared to this formula.  The L’Oreal is 3X the price of this one, so for a daily foundation, this is a great option.

     

    Wet n Wild Megacushion Foundation

    3362644
    Photo Credit: MakeupAlley

    I’m on the fence on this one.  The coverage is great, but I was pretty dewy at the end of the day.  It’s cheap, it covers well, it blends well, it sets well with a setting powder, and it looks pretty natural.  For the price I would probably buy this one again as well.  The only downside with this one is that it contains coconut, which might break a lot of people out.  I’ll have to see if it breaks me out after wearing it all day today.  It does have SPF 15, which is also a little added bonus.  The other problem I have with this is the “cushion” container.  I feel like there is hardly any product in there.  For the same price (actually less…) I can get a whole bottle of the Photofocus.  Yes, it is a little different coverage and a bit of a different look and I get that, but I neither love nor hate this one.

     

    Coty Airspun Loose Powder

    powder
    Photo Credit: Amazon

    Yep-my grandma had this on her vanity, too.  This is hands down the best loose powder I’ve ever used.  You can bake with it (no, not bake as in bread… bake your makeup…), use it as a finishing powder, and it’s buildable and works great with bronzers and blush.  I don’t think I’ll give any of my other loose powders a second chance after this one.  You get a ton of product in the container and it’s so affordable.

     

    Physicians Formula Bronze Booster

    bronzer
    Photo Credit: Ulta

    I wanted to love this one.  The packaging is great, it’s relatively inexpensive, and bronzers are always fun to work with.  This particular formula has some pretty large chunks of glitter.  Yeah… not always the look you want.  On me it looked a little patchy, but that might have been operator error-for some reason I used a fairly densely packed and smaller brush than normal, so I’ll give this one another try and probably only use it when I want to feel more… tropical.

     

    Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer

    butter bronzer
    Photo Credit: Amazon

    I find this bronzer much easier to work with than the Bronze Booster.  It has a finer powder formula and blends much more easily.  I will give you a word of caution-if you’re fair-skinned and purchase the shade “light” it is basically a pressed powder… bummer.  Make sure you purchase the “bronzer” shade if you want an actual bronzer.  Yes… I found out the hard way.

     

    Wet n Wild Color Icon Blush

    blush
    Photo Credit: Wet n Wild

    I love this blush!  $2.99?  Yes, please!  I hate trying to figure out what blush color to choose.  In Tati’s video she used Pearlescent Pink and I was like, “Yes!!!! That’s it!”.  Although this is called pink, it does have hints of coral, which usually works well with any color combinations.  I’m glad I added this one to my collection.

    Milani Rose Blush

    rose blush
    Photo Credit: Milani

    This blush isn’t in this video, but Tati uses it frequently in her tutorials.  This blush is my absolute favorite.  The color is soft (Romantic Rose), it’s matte, and it has such pretty packaging.  You can’t go wrong with this one!

    Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Powder

    highlighter
    Photo Credit: Walmart

    Now, I’m not a huge fan of highlighters to begin with because they just enhance every large pore on my face and make my skin look oily, but Wet n Wild hit a home run on this one.  The shade in Tati’s video is Precious Petals.  It’s such a soft, subtle shade and the shimmer is very fine.  Highly recommend this one!

    Wet n Wild MegaGlo Highlighting Palette

    highlighter palette.jpg
    Photo Credit: Wet n Wild

    Since I loved the single highlighting powder so much, I figured I needed more options, right?  Luckily Wet n Wild makes an entire palette.  I’m torn on this one-I love the shades and there is a variety that will go with any makeup look, but several of these have fairly chunky glitter in them.  I’m not 12… I can no longer dump glitter on myself and not be judged.  Overall, though this still isn’t too terrible for the price to give you a few more options.

    Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

    Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

    St. Patrick’s Day is coming, so it’s time for a great corned beef recipe.  This one is so easy it’s insane.  Seriously.  It is full of flavor, you have all of the sides in the same slow cooker (potatoes, carrots, onion, and cabbage), and it’s a must have for St. Patrick’s Day.  I adapted my recipe from a recipe from foodiecrush.com.  Check out the original here!  There is even an Instant Pot option included at foodiecrush.com.  I tend to fill my Crock Pot to the brim, so I’m not even attempting the Instant Pot option, but if you’re cooking a smaller amount, it might be worth a shot!

    Ingredients

    • 3 carrots peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
    • 1 yellow onion peeled and quartered
    • 1/2 pound small potatoes halved
    • 1 corned beef brisket about 3 pounds, plus pickling spice packet or 1 tablespoon pickling spice
    • 16 oz beef broth
    • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1/2 head Savoy cabbage cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 3-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish to taste

    Directions

    1. In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place the carrots, onion and potatoes. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice. Pour the beef broth over the vegetables and brisket. Sprinkle with the sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover and cook on high until corned beef is tender, 5-6 hours, or 10-12 hours on low.
    2. Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking until cabbage is tender, 45 min to 1 hour (or 1 1/2 to 2 hours on low). Thinly slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with the vegetables and cooking liquid with the horseradish sauce.

    Corned beef is something I only tend to cook in March since that’s when it’s available in most stores, so I always forget what cut is the best to use in the slow cooker.  The Point Cut tends to be fattier, more full of flavor, and juicier to cook while the Flat Cut is a leaner cut of beef.  Head on over to foodiecrush.com For a better description of how to choose the best cut for your taste and how to prepare the corned beef before cooking in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

    Palette Wars: Urban Decay vs. Tarte

    Palette Wars: Urban Decay vs. Tarte

    *Sigh*  I hate to go here, but there is a clear winner when it comes to eyeshadow palettes in my makeup arsenal.  I know… you guys probably think you already have it figured out.  Well, after trying and TRYING to love a certain cult favorite eyeshadow palette, I just can’t do it.  Urban Decay, you are not for me.  Could it be the particular palettes I happen to have?  Maybe. I took a chance on Tarte and it paid off.  Big time.

    Over the holidays I purchased Naked Smoky, Naked Heat, and Naked 3.  My typical daily look consisted of primarily matte shades from the Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics palette.  They are very pigmented, complemented my skin tone, and were great for a daily look.  I’ve always wanted to branch out and try bolder colors and since Urban Decay Naked palettes seem to be everywhere, I assumed this was a great place to start.  UD Naked Smoky was the first palette I purchased during the holiday season.  I was so excited to open the palette, was pumped to find a small tutorial insert in the package, and quickly went to work after ripping the package apart.  Unfortunately I had to send the palette back after realizing one of the shades was misspelled (read about the epic fail here).  After going through the tutorial, I quickly decided the smoky eye is not for me.  For some reason, no matter what brushes I use it looks like I grabbed charcoal and smeared it all over my eyes.  Could be my fair skin, could be my eye shape, I could just be an epic fail at eyeshadow application, who knows… all I know is it doesn’t work for me.

    Next, I purchased the UD Naked Heat palette.  Well, just like I couldn’t rock the smoky colors, the “heat” colors made me look like I had pink eye or a serious lack of sleep.  Not exactly attractive.

    Enter UD Naked 3.  Ok… this one got a little better, but there were still more cool tones in this palette.  There are some pink and purple toned shades, but they’re on the cooler side.  The entire reason I love my Naked 2 Basics palette is that it is full of warm colors that compliment my fair skin so well.  Urban Decay Naked 3 = Fail #3.

    Right about the time I purchased the Naked Heat palette I decided to take a chance on another palette.  This was really more of a “collection” than a palette.  I kept seeing ads from Sephora and Ulta for Tarte’s Pineapple of My Eye Collector’s Set.

    pineapple.jpg
    Photo Credit: Sephora

    Well, I felt like I couldn’t justify a giant set like this.  It didn’t all fit in the container (organizational me couldn’t deal…), I don’t need green eyeshadow (I’m not a 5-year-old playing with Barbie makeup, guys…), and… it’s expensive.  Of course the interwebs had to read my mind and suggest a different collector’s set that DID fit in the packaging, still had an adorable little pineapple (stand tall, wear a crown, people) and sequined packaging, and it was, wait for it… ON SALE!  Done and done.

     

     

    sweet escape
    Photo Credit: Ulta

     

    What I love about the Sweet Escape Collector’s Set is… everything.  Literally everything.  I decided on this set because of the awesome packaging and  now have found my favorite liquid eyeliner, blush, and SEVERAL eye makeup looks that I never would’ve attempted before.

    I’m typically a matte eyeshadow type of girl, but this set has changed my mind.  The shimmer shades are so pigmented and so full coverage that very little goes such a long way and looks great on.  The blush colors are awesome-a great pink and a more rose option, and a bronzer and highlighter to complete the look.  I’m now completely in love with the liquid eyeliner (I don’t do liquid eyeliner… I have to do my makeup with midgets yelling for me in the background, people).  I ordered this set directly from Tarte when they had a 25% off sale during the holidays.  Since ordering this set Tarte has mailed 20% off coupons.  I will definitely be purchasing another Tarte shadow palette using their coupons.

    So, for pigmentation, value, ease of use, and packaging… Tarte wins.  Sorry Urban Decay, but I’m just not that impressed.  I purchased an entire set of all of these shades of shadow, blushes, bronzers, mascara, eyeliner, and lip color for less than the price of an Urban Decay palette.  Maybe I’ve just purchased the gimicky palettes and will feel differently with a full palette from the Naked line.  For now, I’m not forking over the $54 to find out.