Wednesday, July 30, 2014

365 Vegan Smoothies by Kathy Patalsky Book Review + My Strawberry Melon Smoothie Recipe


This cookbook could not have had better timing in it's arrival. Just as I made a choice to get on the treadmill 4 times a week and eat 1200 calories a day, I got an email asking me if I'd like to own this book. I obviously jumped on the opportunity. What can I say, I guess was getting a little bored of turning to pinterest for recipes all the time.  I knew you all would appreciate a review of a book promoting health and good routines too. 

  Don't worry, I am not going Vegan on you, I respect those who are but it's just not the kind of food lifestyle I ever expect to work for me on a long term basis. I did go to Whole Foods and pile a cart with ingredients to make these smoothies for one whole week though and I have to say it was a really great week. I felt more energized, not bloated and less hungry. I would have gone on for a few more weeks but truthfully I just don't have the time for the preparations required each morning. It also has alot to do with the machine I'm using at this time which is just utter garbage. Time to save up for a Nutri Ninja Pro Blender or Magic Bullet I guess. The ones with the mason jar cups are actually very much existent on my wishlist at the moment.  

On to my review, here's what I have to say about this cookbook:


How it Looks: Beautiful! I love the white cover with it's bright letters and was also thrilled that it comes in soft cover and isn't overly heavy. The whole front section is filled with information on why smoothies are good for you etc. which I felt should have possibly been split up with some at the front and some at the end, since the actual smoothie part comes along quite far into the book. Once it gets to the smoothies though, it does not disappoint. This author has thought of everything, from the different flavors, textures, fruits and vegetables. 

What's Inside: Just as it's title states, there are 365 smoothie recipes packed into one book. They are easy to follow and the ingredients are not too exotic, so they are able to be found at many local groceries and certainly at Whole Foods. At the same time, it isn't boring either and every day brings something fresh, new and exciting! I personally am quite visual when it comes to cookbooks and so something that irked me a bit was the amount of recipes that do not have photos. I guess I'd be asking too much if I insinuated there should have been a picture for every single one, but I think every few pages is a must. 

What I love: The photos that are included are absolutely gorgeous in quality and setting. I also really enjoyed reading about the author who is a blogger herself at kblog.lunchboxbunch.com

What I Don't Love: Just one thing: the lack of pictures. Everything else about this book is utter perfection to me!  

My Favorite Recipe: Fresh Blackberry Buzz


And now I am going to share one of my own recipes that I created inspired by the recipes in this book. It incorporates strawberries and melons and is in short perfectly summery!


Strawberry Melon Smoothie  

Yields- 1 Large Smoothie/About 3 Cups

Ingredients: 

1 Cup Frozen Strawberries
1 Cup Vanilla Coconut Almond Milk
1 Cup Mixed Cubed Melons- Honey Dew & Cantaloupe
1 Nectarine- Peeled and chopped
1 Cup Ice Cubes
2 Teaspoons Fresh Grated Ginger

Method: 

Place the strawberries, almond milk, honey dew, cantaloupe and nectarine into the blender and give it a wizz on "blend" mode depending which blender you have. Add the grated ginger and blend again. Finally add the ice and use a higher setting to crush it. Serve immedietely topped with a slice of nectarine if you'd like. 


This book is available to be purchased here

What is your favorite morning smoothie?

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Gigi.

Monday, July 28, 2014

My Makeup Brush Cleaning Routine


Brush cleaning is one of those jobs quite comparable to laundry in my mind. It's inevitable and eventually must get done but I dread it every time. To make the task a bit more bearable I often apply a face mask and put on a catchy song. I wrote an entirely too long blog post on brush cleaning a while back which covers why brush cleaning is important, how often to do it and how to choose a good cleanser. Go and read that here for all of those details if you'd like. Another must read is my most used makeup brushes post. In it, I share my top picks of my brush collection most of which aren't too pricey. On my wish list for months have been some Sigma brushes, I hope that happens some time soon! 


 Today's post goes along with this weeks video where I show the steps I take to deep clean and spot treat my brushes. For the best clean I love my Japonesque Proffessional Brush Cleaner and good old Johnsons Detangling Baby Shampoo. I have found both to really get into the bristles and give my tools a great scrub. Don't forget to lay your brushes down flat when they are drying to avoid allowing the water to go into the ferrule which will often unglue your handles from the bristles. Another great find was the pencil holder shown in the photo above which I'm pretty sure I got for a couple bucks from Wal Mart a year or so ago. It makes the perfect brush holder in size and shape.  

  

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Gigi. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smashbox Full Exposure Eye Shadow Pallette Review & Swatches



Smashbox describes this eye shadow palette as: "A set of universally awesome neutrals" both effortless and essential.

Mixed reviews are common when a popular makeup brand comes out with an expensive eye shadow palette. This one had me all confused with all credible sources saying these shadows were either incredible or absolutely terrible. The concerns were mainly surrounding wear time and color payoff but using a primer and a few simple application tips, I found many redeeming qualities, myself! Neutral eye shadow palettes have become quite the trend, so what superfluous characteristics set this one apart from the others?

Here's what I think of it:


Color Variety: This palette comes complete with 14 shades, 7 of which are matte and 7 with a shimmery finish. This to me is what makes it so unique to others which only offer the matte shades or just the shimmery ones. I personally wish they were named with actual names instead of numbers and that at least those shades were written underneath each shade because that would just make my life as a blogger/youtuber easier. My favorites of the bunch are the purple shimmer in the top row all the way to the left, the navy shimmer in the top row all the way to the right, the gold shimmer third from the left in the top row is also gorgeous. Of the mattes, I really like the cool browns and that black! If you like a smokey eye, your set and if your more keen on the neutrals you'll love these shades too. There's a perfect inner corner highlight color and one to double as an eyeliner so really it has almost everything! 


Pigmentation: The color payoff on those matte shades is actually pretty incredible, the shimmery shades on the other hand come up a little short. I have figured out how to work with them and get the most out of each shade though. Using a synthetic flat shader brush with some Mac Fix+ I pack the color on over an eyelid primer of course and then I go back into the product with my finger and that builds up the color intensity beautifully. (I will certainly demonstrate this in a makeup tutorial in the near future)


Consistency: The matte shades are buttery and smooth but the shimmers are a little harder to work with on blending and some have quite a bit of fall down which can be messy. 

Packaging: I like the holographic lettering and black background. The palette itself is quite heavy and large so it wouldn't be my first choice for traveling with but it does have so many eye shadows to choose from in terms of creating different looks. The lid flips open to reveal a huge mirror which is very convenient and clicks into place with no faults so that makes it quite sturdy. As with all of Smashbox palettes there is a place for a brush too and that's definitely a plus. 


Top Row- Shimmery Shades


Bottom Row- Matte Shades

Price: $49.00 is alot to pay for eye shadows. At the same time, the Urban Decay Naked palettes go for $54.00 a piece and come with 2 shadows less then this does, so value for money is certainly good here.

Lasting Power: Some eye shadows stay on the eyes well even without laying down a primer first. These are not them. Without an eye shadow base, these will begin to crease within the first couple of hours and then will slowly wear off. I have gotten a full 8 hours plus when I pair these with my Mac paint pot or any other primer and that is pretty fantastic. 

Extras: Along with this palette you get a fabulous double sided brush. I did not think I'd like it at all but surprised myself and use it all the time. The flat shader side is nice for laying down color and the other side is a large blending brush that gets those looks looking just perfect. Also, a mini size full exposure mascara is thrown in there. I think it's decent but it isn't the best mascara I've ever owned. I do use it for an every day look. If you thought that was it, it isn't. You will get your moneys worth with this one, because a eye shape chart is included explaining all the different ways to apply these colors to suit your specific eyes. 

Overall: I love that this palette comes with matte shades and shimmery ones as well. I think some shades could have been better in pigmentation but using an eyelid primer and your fingers to apply is certainly a quick fix. The colors themselves are pretty great to apply with the mattes doing better in that aspect then the shimmers. Although it comes at a steep price, the colors as well as all of the extras thrown in make it all worth it. You've got everything you need- shadows, a brush and a mini mascara as well as a very handy eye chart. 
Is there a neutral palette in your collection? If not, do you plan on purchasing this one?

Leave me a comment in the form below this post, I love hearing from you! 

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Gigi.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Greek Salad Recipe


I spend way too much time here talking about the weather. I go on and on about how I love the rays of sun peeking through my kitchen window and how little I appreciate a heavy downpour of snow. Friends have so much more to talk about then that boring stuff..am I right? So I will skip that for today and just say this: the last thing any of us want to be doing right now is standing over a hot stove, stirring food simmering in a pot. In an effort to stay cool we have just a few options at meal time: a) Find a male family member and tell them how great they are at grilling. ;) lucky for me, my husband just so happens to be insanely talented at the grill b) Buy a pie of pizza and call it a night. c) Throw together a filling salad. This one is perfection. It may take an exorbitant amount of slicing to get it done but no sweating in the sweltering heat will need to be endured. It's really good for you and the ingredients are easy to find at your local grocery store. Plus I made a video demonstrating how I personally prepare this salad and it went up as my weekly Youtube installment this week. Go and watch it here if you'd like, or read till the end of the post where I will insert as usual.


There are so many variation options as well. If you have an extra 10 minutes, breaded eggplant strips would be an excellent addition. Minus the feta cheese of course (for kashrut reasons) grilled chicken strips are just the thing. Brined olives or kalamata olives are usually ideal with greek salads, I personally prefer black olives though. Whatever you do, have fun with it and make it your own. 

Greek Salad:

Ingredients:

2 Large Cucumbers, Sliced into thin rounds
1 Medium Yellow Pepper
1/2 of a Medium Red Onion, Cut into Slivers
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes, Sliced in half
1/2 Cup Black Olives, sliced in half
1/2  Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese (1 Container Haolam already crumbled)

Dressing:

1/2 Fresh Lemon, Juiced or 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Fresh Chopped Garlic
1 Tsp. Fresh Chopped Cilantro
1 Tsp. Mint Spice

Method:

Toss the chopped veggies with the dressing ingredients and serve. 

  
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Gigi. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Cooking: My Top 10 Recipes (2014)

Is it mid July already? I am amazed by the ability summer has to literally swoop right past me while winter seems to just last forever. I'm loving every minute though, what about you guys?

A very important part of the whole summer experience is certainly food. Every year I compile a list of my favorite recipes for the season. This one is no exception. I had so many to choose from but I have narrowed it down to 10. These are all must trys, so start pinning, tweeting and obviously shopping. Your family and guest will love these. Wether you are entertaining or enjoying a romantic night in, I have got you covered!  

These are all my personal recipes that I have shared in the past. For more amazing summer recipes, go check out my pinterest food board where I consistently pin dishes that will have your stomach grumbling and your mouth watering in minutes! 




Cool off with these Watermelon Smoothies with a flavorful kick of pineapple! 





Sophisticated and bold in flavor, this dish is both impressive and palette pleasing! 


Bored of those typical burgers with ketchup, onions and pickles? This is an awesome way to change it up. 



Because what says campfire and summer family getaways better then s'mores! 



Stay hydrated with these super refreshing fruity spritzers. They are the perfect addition to a backyard picnik or bbq for sure!




A very filling appetizer choice for all your summer soi-ree's. 



Popsicles are just the thing in the hot weather. It will please the kids and adults alike! 



Get creative with your grilling this season. This flavor packed white fish will fall apart in your mouth.



Sweet Mangos give this salad great dimension. If you like guacamole and chips, you will love this one!



Grill the pieces of chicken instead of frying them and create a healthier warm weather meal which will have the whole family asking for seconds!

I hope you will try some of these fabulous recipes this summer! Do you have a recipe you'd call a summer must have? Leave it in the comments form along with any other opinions you may have, I would love to hear from you! 

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Gigi.
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