Sunday, October 31, 2010

And the winner is....

Chic & Green reader "ERay" is the winner of the October giveaway! Congratulations to you! Please email me kzmFACE [at] gmail.com with your mailing info.

Stay tuned for the big November giveaway announcement tomorrow morning on the blog.



Enjoy your Halloween, everyone! Up above are Nick and Ben. Nick is David Ortiz "Big Papi") of the Red Sox. Ben is Alex Rodriguez from the Yankees :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

{5 piece giveaway: will it be yours?}




The October Giveaway is going on at Chic & Green. I've put together a collection of 5 lovely products for one lucky reader. My drawing is tonight!

The first item is by Solstice Scents, one of the best Etsy shops ever. It is a full sized bottle of the Rosemilk Day Cream. It is advertised as a light moisturizer for all skin types and is a lovely paraben free blend featuring Rose Absolute, Palmarosa, and Geranium Bourbon essential oils. I personally find that it is a bit light for dry skin types, but would be lovely for combination skin or even oily skin.


The second item of the giveaway collection is from one of my most favorite skin care lines, Burt's Bees. It's for their newly reformulated Milk & Honey Body Lotion. The new formulation is richer and will keep your arms and legs soft and silk all day and night.


I am really excited about the third giveaway item. It is from a line I have been trying out called Dashing Diva. This is an exquisite robin's egg blue (my favorite color!) nail polish in a shade called Pier 39. These toluene free nail colors are long-wearing and I find that these resist chipping for a couple days longer than normal.


We are giving away a full size, 1 ounce spritz bottle of Clean Well Hand Sanitizer. I have told you about this wonderful line before. Click here for my extensive thoughts on Clean Well.  Your hand sanitizer will come in the Orange Vanilla scent. The little ones are coughing and sneezing and germs spread around school so easily, so this will come in very handy!


The 5th item of the giveaway is from Weleda. It's for a deluxe trial size boxed sample of their fantabulous Arnica Massage Oil. It's just a wonderful aromatherapy oil to soothe the body and senses.

The Rules:

How to Enter:

*Enter a comment on the giveaway blog post.

{and/or}

*Become a C & G Facebook Fan. Do this by using the "Like" button on the page.

{and/or}

*Become a follower of this blog.
{and/or}
*Tweet about this giveaway on Twitter! If you do, let me know and I'll give you an extra entry!

*Open to adults over 18 years of age. Immediate family members or paid advertisers of C & G are not eligible for prizes. Readers within the United States only, please.


WINNER WILL BE DRAWN October 29 AT 9PM! ENTER UNTIL THEN.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mayday Underground is November 6!



Attention locals! You must mark November 6th down as a shopping day on your calendars and be sure to head to The Village Gate in the city for the Mayday Underground Arts + Crafts Luau.

At this event, you'll find more than 50 talented Indie artisans from the area showing off their wares and providing you with a great opportunity to shop for the holidays and give the gift of handmade.

The event runs from 10 to 4 and if you arrive early enough, you can grab a swag bag. How cool!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chai!

I love chai. If you're a regular reader, you might recall I have a slight addiction to coffee. OK, let's be honest--it's more than slight. I still adore other drinks, though, and chai rates right up there. I love the warmth and creaminess blended with spicy goodness in each cup.


If I'm ordering chai out, I like it iced at Chocolate and Vines on University Avenue and I used to like it hot at Earthtones in Webster, although that cafe closed not too long ago. It can get pretty pricy if you like consuming more than 1 cup like I do, so making your own is a great solution.

I love to support local businesses and I just have to tell you about an online business,  Peggy's Perfect Chai Mix. Peggy Gold is a busy counselor and mother here in my town and in her spare time she creates heavenly chai mixes that are quickly transformed into cafe-style drinks right in your own home. At just $1 per serving, you've got a coffee house drink without breaking the bank. I know I used to pay about $3.75 for a medium sized chai in a to go cup.

Peggy just launched a new website and also has a new Facebook Fans page. If you become a fan (by hitting "like") of Peggy's Perfect Chai Mix and post on her wall, you're automatically entered in a drawing for a free package of chai.

Also worth noting--Peggy's chai blends come in regular and decaf so you can enjoy that cup right before bed without it keeping you up all night.

Support this locally owned and woman owned business and be sure to tell her Chic & Green sent you her way.

The Dry Skin Doldrums: Burt's Bees to the Rescue!

I miss the summer time. It's always been my favorite season, and with the exception of snow at Christmas time, I wouldn't mind it being sunny and 80 each and every day. It's really lovely right now and we're having a bit of a warm spell, but we've had to have the heat on quite a bit this fall already. When this happens, my skin gets dry and itchy. It's extra important for me to pamper it and I am religious about my skin care routine before I go to bed.

Here's my bedtime ritual. I love to take long baths before bed, but know that longer doesn't mean better for the skin. I've limited it to about 15 minute soak. In this 15 minutes, though, I grab my basket full of Burt's Bees and spend that time getting pampered. It doesn't include my facial ritual, but this is what I do to treat my skin after a long day. Every product used is from one of my most favorite brands, Burt's Bees.

Step 1: Dry Brush the Skin


Dry brush the body. I have been dry brushing my skin for a decade. Spend 5 minutes before your bath dry brushing your skin. You can find good quality, natural bristled body brushes at The Body Shop, Crabtree & Evelyn, and Ulta.

Your skin will see phenomenal benefits with dry brushing. Avoid the face and heart region. Work from the feet up in gentle, long motions working up towards the heart. Do the hands up the arms and shoulders. Also work on the torso working up.

Dry skin cells will help be shed. Skin will appear newer and more radiant. Regular brushing helps reduce the appearance of cellulite and lends a smoother feel. Dry brushing is also said to help reduce toxins. Circulation can also be improved.


Step 2: Exfoliate

Get rid of those dry skin cells! I have a new favorite body scrub. I have always loved more emollient sugar scrubs and I have a new favorite. Burt's Bees recently launched the Cranberry and Pomegranate Sugar Scrub ($13). Let me first tell you that it smells so good. It almost reminds me of sangria. This formula feels so good on my skin. It contains cranberry juice, honey, multiple natural oils, shea butter, and pomegranate seed oil.

When I use this, my skin is instantly brighter and softer. This is quite possibly the best body scrub I have ever used and I highly recommend it to you. It was just launched and is making its way to stores. I've had luck finding it at Target. I know you can also find it right on the Burt's Bees site.

Step 3: Gently Cleanse



As much as I simply adore handmade, cold-processed soaps, I typically use them in the morning only. I like to use a liquid body wash at bath time and I actually use the one that I use on the boys: Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Body Wash.

Step 4: Pat Dry and Apply Body Oil



I  like to use the Burt's Bees Baby Bee Nourishing Baby Oil before I moisturize. I find that applying it to damp skin locks in the moisture and provides a great base for the lotion. This lovely oil is not just for babies. I use it regularly as well and have on and off for 7 years now.


Step 5: Moisturize




Burt's Bees is making it easier for me this fall. They have come out with some new body lotions and I've been trying them out. My most favorite has to be the Fragrance Free Lotion With Shea Butter and Vitamin E.
As much as I like scented creams and lotions in the morning, I need a heavy duty product at night. I typically use either pure shea butter or coconut oil on my skin at night before bed, but they can get messy. I am loving this tube formulation from Burt's Bees. 

Do not let the "lotion" name fool you. This truly is a cream in a tube. The one thing I do not like about traditional lotions is that you can pump some into your hand, tip your hand upside down, and watch it drip off. I need a much richer formulation and texture and this product is just that. When I squeeze a bit into my hands and turn them over, the cream stays put. It is a really rich and emollient product without being greasy.

The ingredients in this budget-friendly product are also divine. You'll find sunflower oil, shea butter, aloe, beeswax, coconut oil, grape seed oil, buttermilk and more right near the top of the ingredients listing. It is packed with skin-loving nutrients. It feels luxurious on my skin and blends right in.

I have also had my mom testing this one. You may remember me telling you that she fell a few weeks back. Her arm has been covered in a cast for several weeks now and her skin has become dry and itchy. This product softens and soothes her skin.

This lotion retails for $8.00.



I have also been testing out the Soothingly Sensitive Aloe & Buttermilk Body Lotion for Sensitive Skin. This is actually the one that I slather on Nick and Ben after their showers or baths. It smells very much like the Baby Bee Buttermilk Lotion that I typically use on them, but I much prefer the consistency of this one. This one is chock full of great ingredients, from olive oil to buttermilk and chamomile to shea butter. It is super gentle, but it is a very rich formula.

I find that it doesn't absorb very well into dry skin, but if it is applied right after a bath, it glides right in and keeps the skin soft and supple for a long time.

Like the other lotion, this one is also $8.00. 

All this can be done in 15 minutes. Your skin will feel wonderful and you'll be relaxed!




*Disclosure: I am big Burt's Bees fan. I buy nearly all of my own BB products, but was sent the lotion for review at the company's expense. All other items were purchased myself.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Skin Care Review: By Nieves

You know that when it comes to skin care, I am very much into DIY recipes and buying frugally. I avoid as many chemicals as possible, too. I know many of you spare no expense when it comes to your skin care, though, so I'm sharing a new discovery with you. These aren't high end in the scheme of department store prices, but they're not bargains either.

I recently had the opportunity to try a line of natural skin care called By Nieves. I was sent three products to test and review: Face Fix, C Perfect Skin, and Cloud of Protection. I'd like to share my thoughts with you, as well as those of some other C & G testers.



Face Fix-  This product comes in a 4 ounce jar for $32. It is a dry powder that you can mix with a liquid to form a paste. Depending on the texture and consistency you desire, you can try many variations with this, from yogurt to aloe juice to water. 

One of my testers used it with water. My twentysomething tester states, "I mixed a bit of the powder with bottled water. I used this once to try it as a scrub and another time to use as a mask. I liked it both times, but I did like this used as a mask more than a scrub. It is kind of like those mud masks that you can get at a spa. I would give this 3.5 stars out of 4."

I used this a couple different ways, first trying it with Greek yogurt on a day that my skin felt a little bit uncomfortable and dry from the heat coming on again for fall. My skin tends to dry out more and the dry air from the furnace tends to cause some skin changes. The natural lactic acid in the yogurt blended with the mask made for a skin soothing experience.

My favorite was to use this, though, was with organic apple juice because of the pectins. I found that by mixing the Face Fix with the juice that my skin appeared really bright and refreshed immediately after using.

There are many benefits to Face Fix.  It contains white willow, licorice, horsetail, and rose petals as the first four ingredients. It really is chock full of nutrients. The licorice, especially, is something I have used for a long time, as it works really well on those with sensitive skin and conditions such as rosacea and eczema. It is soothing and gentle, yet also works well on acne scars and other skin concerns.

I do adore this mask. Is it pricy? Yes, honestly it is. Could you possibly gather up the ingredients and try to make your own rendition? Yes. That, however, would be a pretty hefty investment in time and money to collect all of the supplies. This 4 ounce jar would last you a very long time. I have used mine 4 times and shared with my tester and have barely made a dent in the glass jar.

If you normally splurge on skin care, this would be a worthwhile choice.


C Perfect Skin- This is an oil based serum and is $35 for a 2 ounce amber glass bottle.  It contains evening primrose, sesame, and jojoba oils. In addition, you'll find a favorite ingredient of mine--squalane--and several essential oils.

My thoughts on this one are mixed. I do believe it is overpriced for what is in it, but again, they do not claim to be a budget friendly line. We've posted oil-based serum recipes here on the blog before and you'd have no trouble doing a DIY project pretty similar to this.

That said, if price is not an object, this is a good product. My skin is normal to dry and this recipe is much too moisturizing for me. The sesame oil on my face, in particular, isn't good just because it is still way to heavy on my skin. If you're oily at all, I cannot recommend this. If you're even pretty dry like me, I would advise caution. It did cause me to break out. I also am not a big fan of the aroma of cedar oil and didn't personally find it pleasing on my skin.

Since I personally didn't really love this one, I gave the rest to a woman I have coffee with if I run into her while on my morning coffee run. Her skin is very, very parched and she has some pretty deep wrinkles. As she is on oxygen therapy for COPD, her skin has taken on a bit of a grayish cast and her skin is just very dehydrated. There are some brown spots. She is in her early to middle 60s and asked me for some help with the dry skin and dull tone.

When I looked at the ingredients for this serum, I knew that it would be good for her. It has the nourishing ingredients she needs and the sesame oil is actually ideal for her skin condition. The evening primrose also has been beneficial to her skin. This serum, once it has been used for more time, I am confident that her skin will continue to soften and brighten. There already has been a great improvement in both the softness and appearance of her skin. It appears plumper, more moist, and without that ashy dryness. Her skin looks much better. If your skin is extremely parched or has many brown spots, I can recommend this if you're going to splurge a bit.



Cloud of Protection-- This is a multi-purpose aromatherapy spray. It is advertised as a product that can safeguard you from illness, bad vibes, and odors. It sells for $18 for a 4 ounce amber spray bottle. In terms of price, it is really a better bargain than the other products from this company, but does it work?

I do believe very strongly in the benefits of aromatherapy. I believe in combining holisttic health with traditional medicine. I practice aromatherapy and reiki to keep me grounded. that said, I also am someone who does like to see some science behind things. 

Can this spray keep you from getting sick? I honestly do not believe so. It has been used in this house and the boys and I have just gotten over a cold. Did it protect our environment and keep us from feeling under the weather? No. Did it boost our immune systems at all or get rid of any airborne pathogens? I simply do not agree that there is enough evidence yet that essential oils can get rid of viruses and nasties in the air.

I do not believe in any way that this would stave off a cold. Stick to practicing good handwashing and loading up on fruits and veggies.

This is also promoted as a product to remove odors. As a mother to two boys who can have inaccurate "aim" at times in the bathroom, I can tell you that this does work as a natural deodorizer.

On to the other claim -- that this can get rid of negative energy. Yes and no. For holistic remedies--even aromatherapy to work--the person using it must be open minded.

I say this because if you are one who absolutely does not believe in "alternative" methods, they won't work. Plain and simple. It has to do with a mind, body, spirit connection. I have mentioned that I practice Reiki. I believe that it works. The first time I had a Reiki treatment, I was open minded. I didn't go in telling myself, "This is a bunch of bologna."

If you do not open your mind to other possibilities, that has defeated it already. My mom is one of those people. Mom, if you are reading, you know this is true. My mom is a very logical and analytical type of person. It is pretty much black or white, right or left. There really is not a middle ground. I can only say this hear because it is true, but my mom is someone who isn't a "glass half full" type of person. Quite the contrary. The glass is always half empty. She is not one to believe that something outside the "norm" might work.

If I sprayed lavender relaxation spray (which I use for myself) around her and told her to breathe it in and relax, she would roll her eyes at me. When I was last with her, I gave her the rest of the bottle of this spray. I sprayed it around to clear any negative vibes and "make room for good fortune and happiness" as the website suggests. I can tell you that this was not her opinion of the spray. I believe, "What's that smell?" in a semi-crabby tone was the response.

I do have to tell you, though, that as open minded and positive as Chic & Green generally is, I didn't find the scent uplifting either.

The Bottom Line:

My testers and I enjoyed Face Fix. I thought it was a lovely product with wholesome ingredients. It will last a good long time, so if you divide the cost into uses, it probably isn't that costly.
The other products were mixed. I really wouldn't buy the Cloud of Protection, but do recommend the serum for those with very dry skin. If you are interested, By Nieves has a great trial size program so you can get a generous smaller size at a lower cost to really have a chance to try before you buy.


*Dislosure: I was sent these products for review at no cost to me. This in no way has influenced the outcome of this review.

Monday, October 25, 2010

a gorgeous fall weekend

We had a lovely weekend in Upstate New York. Saturday was kind of a lazy day. I had a hair appointment and we stuck around the house a good part of the day. We ordered a pizza and watched Game 6 of the NLCS. Yesterday, though, was spent enjoying some of the beautiful scenery we have in this area.


We met my stepmother down in Ithaca, which is about 90 miles from our driveway. Ithaca is a beautiful college town in Tompkins County with vineyards and gorges. It's home to Cornell University and Ithaca College and is just a beautiful, progressive place. You'll pass by dozens of little shops and cafes, natural foods stores, vegan restaurants, and more. We ate at a great Italian restaurant on W. Buffalo Street called Joe's, which has been there since the 1930s. The food was delicious and it had a great vibe to it.

On the way home, we stopped at the beautiful Taughannock Falls. I hadn't been there in years. I remember visiting this beautiful lookout area with my neighbors, the Zadoroznys, as a child. It looks the same--still stunning. Even Nick, my seven year old, said that it was "one of the most beautiful things ever."

I think we often forget what a diverse state we live in. New York is really a gorgeous place, especially in the fall.




Lastly, we found another reason to return to the Ithaca area. We passed a museum called The Museum of the Earth at the Paleontological Research Institution. We didn't get a chance to stop yesterday, but we plan to go back for a day. The boys, especially Nicholas, love anything and everything related to dinosaurs. This place should be right up their alley.

By the way, if you like looking at fall foliage, I'd suggest heading down that way in the next week or so. The colors are just stunning!

Friday, October 22, 2010

{It's a Good Friday}

It's Friday and I wanted to share some lovely finds from eBay's World of Good. Let's see what I found for you today:



$18


Pumpkin Spice 4-pack of votives from Soy Natural
$10.95


Earrings from Craft Network Store
$55


Gourds turned into pears with silver leaves by Novica
$49.95



Candle holder from Fair Trade Winds
$7.50



$16




Thursday, October 21, 2010

{DIY Skin Care: Pumpkin Mask}





I have used fresh pumpkin on my skin for years this time of year. The enzymes in pumpkin are abundant. When I had my skin care business, I made a dry mask called the Pink Pumpkin Mask that was really lovely for dry, mature, and delicate skin types. Today we're going to make hat same recipe. Here it is:

Pumpkin accounts for over half of this mask. Added to this are Pink Kaolin Clay, Buttermilk Powder, Honey Powder and Lavender Essential Oil.

This is an all-natural dry mask. It will help your skin achieve a glow and youthful radiance, naturally. Click on each ingredient for a link to where to buy.

What do the ingredients in this mask do?

Pumpkin soothes, hydrates and protects the skin with its abundance of vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, potassium, alpha-carotene, zinc, beta carotene, and lutein.

Honey is known for its anti-bacterial properties. It can help to treat and prevent acne, while still having the ability to moisturize the skin.

Buttermilk is high in emollients and natural fats from the milk. It helps to cleanse and soothe at the same time.

Pink Kaolin Clay is the gentlest of clays. It will not dehydrate the skin, nor will it draw out oils and strip the skin. It acts as a very gentle exfoliant and helps to boost skin circulation

Lavender is always a favorite of mine for its ability to be so calming and soothing to sensitive and irritated skin, while being effective at clearing up acne.

To Make:

For the proportions, use 50-60% pumpkin powder. The other powders/clays can be split equally to make up the remaining 40-50%. Then add in 10 drops of essential oil. Store in a jar or sealed bag.

To Use:

You will only need a very small amount of the powder, which you may dilute with water, buttermilk, cream, milk, rosewater, or aloe vera juice.

Apply to the skin which has been already been cleansed and rinsed with tepid water.

Leave on your skin for about 10 minutes.

Rinse off thoroughly with warm water.  Follow with your toner and moisturizer.

Shortcut


Now, if you'd like a quick fix with effective results, make it fresh using items you can grab at the grocery store.

Just grab some pure packed pumpkin, buttermilk, and honey together. Make sure you're using 50-75% pumpkin in the proportions. Just mash up and apply to the skin and then rinse off.


Note: All skin care recipes posted on Chic & Green™ are the property of Karley Ziegler Mott and KZM Facial Care Boutique™ and may not be sold, used for profit in any form, reprinted, or redistributed and are for personal use only.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

{Spirit Day}

Today is Spirit Day. If you're not familiar with what it is, it's a day started by teenager Brittany McMillan to show support for those in the LGBT community, especially for those teens who've recently taken their own lives due to bullying.


If you know me at all, you know where I stand on this issue. My best friend is gay. I have many gay friends. A much beloved person in my life who passed away years ago was gay, although she only revealed this to a couple of people she knew would be accepting of it not long before her passing. She was married but soon was divorced, which was very rare back then. She felt she had to be someone she wasn't. She had a roommate for many years whom was just known to most of us as her friend, but she really was the love of her life. They were a couple, but because of the times, they didn't feel they could tell anyone.

I know of others struggling right now with this issue.  Being gay is not a choice. It is no more a choice than me "choosing" to be straight. I was simply born that way.

In honor of Spirit Day, people across the globe are wearing purple to show their support and acceptance for the LGBT community.

Here are some of my favorite purple finds:

 Scarf from Excessary
$25


Earrings from Abby Horowitz Designs
$40


Bag from NzL Bags
$73


Jubilee soap from Alchemic Muse
$6


Jeweled comb from Originals by Lynnette
$22


Custom made purple shrug from Tangente
$56



Clutch from Emerald Diamond
$60


Wrap dress from Lirola
$98



I love the purple on this tray from local artist Carol Barclay.
$14



Flats from Jessica Simpson
$45.95


I'd also like to share a dear friend's submission to the It Gets Better Project. My talented, beautiful neighbor is headed to New York City in the spring to pursue his dream of studying drama. Here's Sean. I am so proud of him for not pretending to be someone he isn't--for being a positive role model for others, too.

Click here to see his video. 

I also want to recommend watching this video from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It is her message to gay teens:


Click here for the Clinton video.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

bargains!

I thought I'd share a couple of bargains with you today. Yesterday, I headed across the Bay Bridge to Webster. I stumbled upon some great bargains and just have to tell you about them.

I love hats. I never used to. I remember my mother forcing me to bundle up in the winter and covering my ears, just as I do my own children. I can also remember my father being upset with me as a twentysomething because I refused to wear one. He was here visiting and we went to the outlet mall in Waterloo. We were in the Polo Ralph Lauren Outlet, his favorite store, and he bought me a navy ski cap with POLO in red letters and forced me to put it on. I still have that cap. 

As I've gotten older, I appreciate hats more as not just as an accessory, but as something to keep me warm. I have a favorite leopard hat that I wear with my navy coat. I have been searching for another and was so happy to stumble upon a J. Crew faux fur hat at the Volunteers of America Thrift Store in Webster. Best of all, it looks brand new and was $1.99!

The same one is selling for $39.99 on eBay right now. Here is the hat I bought, modeled by the charming and handsome Nicholas:





What's better than a hat? My two favorite foods, of course! Cheese and chocolate...two great finds at Aldi. I confess, I am a Wegmans girl. Maybe even a Wegmans snob. I like going to Wegmans. I love the selection and great customer service. I decided to stop into Aldi as I was passing by headed to Ulta.



What did I find? I told you before about the wonderful European chocolate bars they have at Aldi for really great prices. Yesterday, I bought a large bar that actually is four bars. It's from Germany and is a dark chocolate with chili. It's smooth and rich and dark with a bite to it. It's fantastic! It was $1.69.

I also bought a block of their Havarti Dill. I've had this one several times and it is creamy and delicious. It's also a great deal cheaper than Wegmans at $2.99.

The last stop was Ulta. I didn't need anything in particular. I really wanted to just see if they had any more of the fabulous Warren Tricomi hair care on the clearance. Mine is almost gone. Sadly, they didn't. I did, however, find a lipstick for $1.19 on clearance. It is Plum Shimmer Color Comfort Lip Color from the Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy line from Sally Hansen. Here is the shade on me. It is a sheer mauve:




In an hour I found those great bargains and spent around $8 total. What a great morning. I then had time to grab some coffee and read a bit before picking Ben up from his morning kindergarten.


Monday, October 18, 2010

{olga's: an unexpected strip mall treasure}

Tom and I went to a really interesting party Saturday night. It was to celebrate the birthday of a  longtime friend and co-worker named Olga. She's a very sweet lady with Ukrainian roots and her party was held at a local Eastern European restaurant called Olga's (coincidence on the name). Who knew that this place existed? I had heard of it, but what you see on the outside nestled between Bingo Palace and a Dunkin Donuts gives you a different impression. Locals, this place was really something else.



When we arrived, the tables were set with old, fine china along with bottles of vodka, whiskey, brandy, and various wines. Everything was very formal and ornate. There were plates full of food served family style. There was music courtesy of a talented singer and guitar player. Murals covered the walls. Within minutes of being inside Olga's, I forgot this place was in an old strip mall. It was like I was at a big formal family party. It was nice to experience a completely different culture.



There was so much food. New to me foods, too. I honestly thought I was never, ever eat something our new friends translated into "meat Jell-O." This was probably the one dish I would never care to have again. It literally was some sort of meat in a cloudy gray mold of gelatin. We had caviar on homemade crepes, appetizers with salmon and crab. 

There was pickled herring. Lots of smoked and pickled things in general, actually. They had pickled tomatoes, different kinds of pickles, and more.  I also tried different beet preparations. I have never liked beets, but I did Saturday night. Almost everything was said in Ukrainian. We had a lovely couple seated across from us who translated each toast and let us know what was in each dish. They showed me how to roll the caviar into the crepes, too.

What I enjoyed most, I think, was soaking up a different culture. Things are different than a typical American birthday party. I truly felt as though I was transported to Eastern Europe decades back. Experiencing something completely different--and about a mile from home--was completely unique.

For example, the pattern seemed to be eat, drink, make a toast, drink, dance, eat....

The table had bottles of Russian vodka, brandy, whiskey, red wine, and champagne. Someone would make a toast to Olga and then we'd all clink glasses and most would have a shot. I had honey pepper vodka. That was spicy and strong. I still felt the effects yesterday. Everyone would drink a bit,  eat more and then get up and dance. This continued for several hours. After the appetizers, different forms of chicken came out. There was Chicken Kiev and also a chicken with pineapples. Bowls full of steaming roasted potatoes filled various spots on the table. We ate and then there were more toasts, more music and dancing. We were full and getting tired, so we left about 4 and a half hours after we arrived. Dessert had not yet been served. It was a most interesting experience.

If you're in the Rochester area, please check Olga's Restaurant out. I am not quite sure about the hours, though. I have heard that she used to be open regularly but that she cut back because she also owns the grocery store next door. There was a sign on the door that if you're interested in having a dinner reservation to head over to the grocery store and ask for one. This is different, but I am telling you that this would be well worth it if you get a chance to go there.

It's located in the strip mall at the corner of East Ridge Road and Seneca, right by Dunkin Donuts.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spreading Some Blog Love



I took today off from blogging because I've been at my Mom's most of the day. She recently fell and broke her wrist and badly injured her tailbone. She's been in need of a bit of extra help, so Ben and I went today when he was done with school this morning.

I thought I'd share some a couple of favorite new blogs with you today.

Two friends recently started blogging. I told you about Deanna's blog, My Handmade Addiction, back in August. Chandelierious, started very recently by Elizabeth, is another great read. She has some fun decorating ideas and delicious recipes, too. I can attest the the Apple Cider Martini recipe is extra yummy.

Other favorite blogs I have to mention: Christine's blog, A Good Life is also lovely to read. I love the thrifty decorating ideas over at Mabel's House  and City Life Eats offers great perspectives on special allergy-friendly and gluten-free diets. My friend, Sarah, also has a  beautiful blog, My So Called Junky Life.

Of course, I'll plug my new blog as well. In case you didn't hear, The Embrace Your Curves Project launched last week.

Check them out in your spare reading time. It's always fun to read blogs and these will be reads I'm sure you'll enjoy.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

$11 vs $3.50

I've long been a fan of the Bare Escentuals Brow Powder. I used to use Brow Tech from Smashbox or a product from Anastasia Beverly Hills, but the Smashbox is full of petrochemicals and the Anastasia contains parabens. The Dark Blonde/Medium Brown shade from Bare Escentuals was right on the money for me in terms of color and the ingredients were better.

 
Bare Escentuals bareMinerals in Dark Blonde/Medium Brown : 0.01 ounces (0.28g) $11
Ingredients: Bismuth Oxychloride (CI 77163), Mica (CI 77019), Iron Oxides (CI 77499, CI 77492, CI 77491) 

 


 

Silk Naturals Brow Powder in Medium Ash: 5g jar, $3.50
 Ingredients: Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, Magnesium Stearate, Silk Powder, Boron Nitride, Silica and Pigments. Also contains: Iron Oxide



Over and over again I have seen cases when the less expensive item performs the same, if not better, than the more expensive item. This is one of those cases. I told you several weeks back about my lippie order from Silk Naturals. I adore this company because it is not too far away from me. It's located right in New York's Finger Lakes region. I love the lipsticks and gloss. I also adore the Blur Tinted Finishing Powder. This company puts out top-notch mineral cosmetics at a really affordable cost.


I was running low on my Bare Escentuals Brow Powder, so I decided to try the Brow Powder from Silk Naturals. A full sized 5 gram pot sells for $3.50. As in three dollars and 50 cents....for a high quality product!

I chose the Ash because I find that most of the blonde and light brown brow colors have too much red. I need a cool shade and taupes and ashes work well for me. The Ash is identical in color to my Bare Escentuals powder. The texture is also very similar. The main difference for me is the fact that Silk Naturals does not use irritating Bismuth Oxychloride in their mineral formulations. Of course, the cost is a difference, too. It's $7.50 less for a better product. 

My Bare Escentuals brow powder lasts me a full year. The cost is just under $0.92 per month. There's a bit more in my Silk Naturals container and I notice I need less product, so I anticipate around 13 months of use. Even if I only got the full year out of it, that's less than $0.30 per month. I know when it's broken down, both are very reasonable. When the superior product will last longer for much less money, though, it's important to note!

You do not always get what you pay for. Sometimes the bargain is the better product, as is the case with Silk Naturals Brow Powder. The powder comes in 6 shades, so there's something for everyone.