Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tweezerman via Zappos

I have been a customer of Zappos since January of 2007 (almost 6 years).  I first went there because Nordstrom's stopped carrying my then 3 year-old-son's coveted Tsukihoshi shoes.

At the time, it was the only place I could find them that had an excellent return policy and a decent price.  I should write an entire blog dedicated to how great I think these shoes are....but, I digress.

Over the Summer I had placed our annual "school shoe" order for my son and received a message stating I was now eligible for "Zappos VIP Service".  At the time I had no idea what this entailed.  I bookmarked the page to check out later and went about my day.

Fast forward to December.

This weekend I decided to handle some Christmas shopping via the Internet.  My son needed a new pair of shoes and I promised my mom a new pair for her birthday, so I ventured over to Zappos using the aforementioned "VIP" link.

I quickly found what I was looking for and decided to browse some of their other categories.  Who knew they had a "Beauty" department?  Well, they do and it is FABULOUS!  They have so much to choose from.

Moving forward...

The reason for this post is because I finally broke down and purchased some Tweezerman tweezers.  Yay me!  Seriously, I have been wanting to try these for as long as I can remember, but never wanted to fork out the cash for them.  (Hey now, $20 plus dollars is a lot to spend on tweezers for a stay-at-home-mom.  Just saying).  I chose the "Green Apple" color and they are super cute.

$22.00 via Zappos

I placed my order Sunday and received them Tuesday morning.  Talk about quick delivery!  This is one of the many reasons I continue to shop Zappos and refer anyone I know to their site.  As a side note, when you are a Zappos VIP member, all of your orders get upgraded to free overnight shipping.  Impressed?  I sure was.

Back to the tweezers...

Fair to say I have been using  Revlon tweezers I purchased from Target for some time now.  They have always worked fine.  However, these new Tweezerman's live up to their "award winning" reputation.  I would have some bushy eyebrows if I didn't fine tune them every few days - forget about going a week without plucking!  There is a reason people used to say I looked like Brooke Shields from when she was in the Blue Lagoon.  Yikes!!

The Tweezerman tweezers seriously pluck even the finest stray hairs with ease.  I plan on ordering a pair for all 3 of my sisters as Christmas gifts (shhhh, don't tell them).  I may choose the "Mini" version for them.  They are less expensive and one reviewer stated she likes them better than the regular sized ones.  They even come in holiday designs.

Tweezerman Holly Leaves Mini Slant Tweezer $15.00

Cute, right?  I think so.

By the way, I read somewhere that Tweezerman offers a lifetime warranty on their products, so I went to their website to verify this information.

This is an excerpt from their site:

"Our implements are guaranteed to perform and are guaranteed against manufacturing defects. We will sharpen or replace (at our option) the defective implement FREE.
We sharpen our Tweezers, Nippers and Scissors which have become dull through normal use FREE for as long as the implement can be resharpened. No processing fees. No Shipping & Handling fees on return."

I'm thinking you can't go wrong with a set of these bad boys.  What do you think?  Do you already own a pair?  Think they would make a great stocking stuffer?  Please post your thoughts in the comments section.

Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips (Review)

Everyone who knows me knows I have an opinion on pretty much everything.  If I have tried something and love or loathe it, you will know.  I can easily sell a product I love to someone by my enthusiasm for said product.  (With zero compensation thus far, mind you.)  So, when my sister Rachel referred me to join a website called Influenster, I thought, hmmm this sounds interesting.  I signed up, took a few surveys, wrote a few product reviews for the heck of it and read some reviews other people had written - not really understanding what the site was all about.

I kind of forgot about it for a few weeks and then I received this email:

Hi Angela,

Excited for the weekend? Well it’s about to get even more exciting!!! We’re happy to announce that you have been officially selected to receive a special complimentary shipment from Influenster featuring a trusted oral aesthetic product! Thanks so much for filling out our pre-survey. You were a perfect fit!

So, what's next? Well, your box will be on its way soon and should be at your door within 1-2 weeks. Once you get your box, head to your Infuenster profile, find your box in the Fun File, and then click through to the badge page to check-in your box and start testing. We'll be in touch shortly with details, Brand Challenges, and more!

And remember to join Influenster on Facebook and Twitter for announcements, contests, and more opportunities:


Look forward to partnering together!


- Influenster Team

Say whaaat?  I was excited.  I am ALL ABOUT free products.  :)

A few days later, this arrived in my mailbox:

I have always wanted to try these.  I have super sensitive teeth, so that has stopped me.  Now that I have them to try for free, I am taking the plunge.   The directions say to use the strips 1x per day for 30 minutes for a total of 20 days.

Today was my Day 1.  I used the strips as directed and at 20 minutes into it, my teeth started feeling a bit sensitive.  I was tempted to remove the strips, but held on the additional 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Day 1 Friday, November 9th, 2012

Yellow much??  No, I don't smoke or drink coffee.  Never have.  I have never truly tried bleaching before either, so this is where I am today.  I am hoping I will have a brighter, whiter smile at the end of 20 days.  I will update my blog with my progress as much as possible over the next couple of weeks.

Have any of you tried whitening?  What did you love/hate about it?

Remember, "If You're Not Whitening, You're Yellowing."
Disclaimer:  I have received this product complimentary through Influenster.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is here!  (Well, kind of - it is still in the 100's in my neck of the woods).
How do I know Fall is here?  Because Starbucks has their Pumpkin Bread again.

Which is a couple of dollars per slice.
The mix I use for my knock-off version is around $3.00 per box and makes approximately 12 servings.

My son LOVES the Starbucks Pumpkin Bread.  I don't love the price.  Or the fat.  A few years back, I had to cut fat from my diet (Settle down.  I am talking about saturated fat; not the "good" types of fat).  Around that time, I came up with a ton of alternatives for myself by searching the web and playing with recipes.  This is one of them.

It is super simple.

The best part is it only requires 4 ingredients.

  1. (1) Package of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix
  2. 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters
  3. 1/2 cup of Apple Sauce (I used unsweetened, but I bet Apple Cinnamon flavor would be great)
  4. (1) cup of Water
Seriously.  This is all you will need to make a knock-off, lower-fat version of Starbucks Pumpkin Bread.
 Let's get started:
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Prep your pan.

I purchased this pan a few years ago from Williams-Sonoma.

I went to find the pan I have on their website and they now have a loaf pan I really want to get, too.

By the way, when I first started making this Pumpkin Bread/Muffin recipe, I originally used the Williams-Sonoma Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Quick Bread Mix (shown above), but at around $12.00 per bag of mix, there is no way I could justify making it that often.  Also, the Trader Joe's version tastes almost as good.

 Now for the fun stuff....
Add 1/2 cup of Egg Beaters to your mixing Bowl.

Next, add 1/2 cup of Apple Sauce.

 Then, add (1) cup of water and Pumpkin Bread Mix.

Attach the bowl to your mixer.

I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the Flat Beater attachment.

Mix until blended well.

 Scoop into muffin or loaf pan.
(I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to ensure the muffins would be uniform in size).

Place in oven.

 I baked mine for approximately 22 minutes.
Then, let cool for about 15 minutes.


Another view.

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins.

These are great for class parties, after school snacks or as a special lunch box treat.
 Disclaimer:  My 8 year-old son ate 5 of these before I could put them up.
Good thing I have another box.  :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Low(er)-Fat Lemon Cupcake Recipe

The past two times I have gone grocery shopping at my local Ralphs Fresh Fare I have been tempted to buy their lemon cake with lemon frosting they carry in the bakery section.  Seriously, it is like it has been calling my name!  The cake is gorgeous - I will try and snap a picture next time I go in there.  (Because that won't be weird at all).  You get half of a double layer cake for $6.99.  Not a bad price in my opinion.  What is bad is the way it is (probably) made.  I try my best to choose health(ier) alternatives when I decide to eat something that I know I shouldn't.  I was two seconds from swooping that lemon cake up and moving right along.  I mean, I could taste it.  Then I thought to myself, "Ang, you know how to make a healthier version, so settle the heck down".  Which is true.  I do know how to make cakes so they are not AS bad.  So, I pushed my cart straight to the checkout cake mix aisle.

What did I find there?
Duncan Hines Signature Lemon Supreme Cake Mix

Lemon Cake Mix!
Lemon Frosting!
Duncan Hines Lemon Supreme Creamy Frosting

No, neither of them were on sale.  Did I really care?  Short answer: Noooo.  I threw both items in my cart along with some cupcake liners (just in case) and was on my way.

Some of you may have read a previous post I made regarding a new fitness program I am trying out.  (If not, you can read it here).  So, in all honesty I really ZERO business eating ANY type of cake unless it is made from carrots, broccoli and spinach (ew and no thanks!!).  But, since I bought the stuff, I had to make it.  Right?
Well, I went to bed that night dreaming about a double layer lemon frosted cake very tired.  (I was totally okay with this, because I knew the next afternoon it was so going to be on).  Fast forward to the next afternoon:  uhm where are my cake pans??  For sure I know I had some, probably a few sets at one point.  Hmmm.  Oh, yes.  I seem to remember during one of my OCD cleaning sprees (future blog post on those, later) I told my self I would never, EVER bake a cake again.  Yeah, THAT is sure working out.

Anyway, thank goodness I had the foresight to purchase these bad boys:

Per the package directions the original recipe calls for just (3) ingredients (in addition to the cake mix that comes in the box):
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
I learned a long time ago when baking almost any type of cake, bread or muffin you can substitute the oil with an equal amount of apple sauce.  Yep, apple sauce.  It completely cuts the fat out you would be adding if using oil.  I promise no one will know the difference.  It even had the part about using applesauce on the box (near the bottom in super small print).

This is what was printed on the box: "Lower Fat Recipe: Prepare and bake following the directions above except using 1 cup water, 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce and 3 eggs. Reduce baking time 1-2 minutes"

3 eggs??!  That's a lot of fat (approx. 15 grams of fat and 6 grams of saturated fat are in (3) large eggs).

Did you know there is an easy substitute for using whole eggs in baking?  Really.  I have been using it for years.  Years.  No one can ever tell the difference and if you use the substitute instead of whole eggs it cuts all of the fat and cholesterol and about half of the calories as compared to when using whole eggs.

Some of you have probably used this trick yourselves.
If not, once you have tried it you probably won't go back.
Egg Beaters Original
You can use Egg Beaters in lieu of whole eggs.  Yep, EGG BEATERS.  Egg Beaters are simply eggs without the yolk.  Crazy, right?  Don't question this.  Just try it.  I am telling you, everyone I have told who has tried this egg substitution has LOVED it.  I mean, come on.  No more cracking eggs, dropping shells and having to try and dig the shells out of your cake batter?  (Yes, that has happened to me.  Probably a lot more than I am willing to admit).  Personally, I don't even prefer eggs.  Ever.  For anything.  But, this is like some serious stuff right here.  1/4 Cup of Egg Beaters = 1 Large Egg.  Pretty simple, right?

All righty then.  This is how I make my Lemon Cupcakes....
I follow the directions on the box, substituting the following ingredients for the original ones:
1 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Apple Sauce
3/4 Cup Egg Beaters Original

This is the applesauce I use.
Mott's Original Applesauce
 The cups are approx. 1/2 cup each.  This works out well for me.  I don't bake often, and when I do, I hardly use enough applesauce to justify buying one of the huge jars of the stuff.  It always goes bad before I can use it all.  So, this is a fine alternative.  Plus, you can keep it in the cupboard.
Easy to store AND less waste is all right by me.
I dump all of the above ingredients, along with the cake mix into my KitchenAid Mixer.  From there, I pretty much follow the directions printed on the box.
 I use the wire whip attachment to mix the ingredients.

Since my hands are free while it is mixing, I prepare my cupcake pan by lining it with cupcake liners.

I scoop even amounts of cake batter into the liners.
(I like to use a 1/4 Cup measuring cup to ensure they all have close to the same amount of batter).

Then, they go in the oven and I bake as directed. 
(Using the Egg Beaters and applesauce in lieu of oil and eggs sometimes cause the cupcakes to bake a bit faster, so I check the cupcakes a couple of minutes early to make sure they don't over bake).
After they are done, I let them cool on the top of the oven for about 30 minutes.
Once they are cool, it is time to frost them.

My younger sister, Rachel is somewhat of a "cupcake whisperer" and she makes the best cupcakes ever.  Seriously.  Everyone says so, so it must be true.  I try not to eat them because I know she is using whole eggs, oil AND butter.  But, people keep ordering them, so she is going to keep making them that way.  She makes all of her cupcakes from scratch (!!).  Like as in, not-using-a-cake-mix-from the-store kind of "scratch".  Yeah, that's not happening at my house.  Just saying.  Anyway, I called her to ask her if she had any tips for store-bought frosting.  She got all quiet after I asked her.  Hmmm. I was like, "HELLO!  Are you there, Rae?"  (I'm thinking she was thinking I need to learn how to make my own frosting).  Once she found her words, she told me she adds a stick of butter (!!) and some powdered sugar to the frosting and mixes it on the highest speed to fluff it all up.


That kind of defeats my purpose of eliminating the eggs and oil.  Scratch that idea.

This is what I did instead ~ I decided to try her idea of placing the frosting in my mixer.
I used the wire whip attachment to "fluff" the frosting.

It actually worked!

I was pretty impressed with myself.
(Don't judge)

 Since I knew I was going to be blogging about this entire experience, I decided to try my hand at using an actual cake decorating kit I bought a couple of years ago from Macy's. 

I decided to go with the "Star Tip".

Problem was, I wasn't really sure exactly what to do with it.
I called the cupcake whisperer my sister and of course, she did not answer.
I'm not one to wait around, so a quick Google search took me to this video.
Seemed EZ PZ.  I'm all about frosting "12 cupcakes in less than 1 minute".

I filled the frosting bag with my "fluffed" frosting and got busy.
That chick in the video is such a liar!  It took me like 3 whole minutes to frost 24 cupcakes!  Sheesh.

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, I realized (in the middle of my first time frosting cupcakes using an actual tool other than a butter knife) the chick in the video had a much bigger "Star Tip" than mine.
(Is it just me, or does that sound kind of dirtay?)

Here is what my cupcakes ended up looking like.


 Pretty, right?

Are you still here?  This is like the longest blog in the history of Lemon Cupcakes evaaaaa.
Hey, I'm thorough if nothing else.

Have any of you tried these lower-fat substitutes?  Did you notice a difference?  Do you have any other low-fat baking tips?
I'd love to read about them.  Please, share them in the comments.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Laundry Room Makeover (Part One)

Some of you may have read my earlier post, Laundry Room Inspiration.  If you didn't read the part regarding my personal, hot-mess-of-a-laundry-room, let me sum it up for you with a few pictures....

But first, let me say this - considering how small my laundry room is and the fact that all sides are surrounded by doors we actually need to use, I don't really have many options.  Short of knocking down walls and remodeling (like that is going to happen), I felt the only thing I could do right now (before I lose my mind) is tidy, clean and organize the area as best as possible.  

First, I started by removing all items and clutter from the room.  Then, I wiped down every surface (including appliances, furniture, doors, windows, blinds and walls).  Next, I vacuumed and steam mopped the floor.  Finally, I started bringing stuff back into the room, making sure I only brought in the items we actually need in there. 

I wish I could tell you how it got so messy.  I have zero excuses.  Really.  No, I did not "make it look messy" in order to have atrocious "Before" pictures.  I wish I could say I had.

Okay, here goes.... 

My son uses this bench every single morning to sit and put his shoes on before school.
Those are actually his shoes you can see in the picture (which do not belong there, I might add!)

I truly despise the location of this room.  The door you see is actually our back door and the main one we use to enter/leave the house each day.  When entering through that door, we have a bathroom to the right (shown in this picture), a hallway if you go straight and our kitchen is to the left.

I have super sensitive skin, so I am always on the lookout for products that will not irritate me.
This is one of the reasons I have a few different brands.

So far, this "mini-project" has cost me less than $20 and about two hours of my time.  I had everything except the glass jars.  The larger one was purchased from Walmart and the smaller one is from Ikea.  I plan on adding a pretty cushion to the bench as well as a new rug in between the bench and the washer/dryer.  I need to come up with a clever way to hide our electrical panel.  Maybe a faux cupboard?

For now, I am just happy our Laundry Room feels fresh and clean.
Oh and it smells like a mixture of Windex Antibacterial and Pine-Sol.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Laundry Room Inspiration

Anyone who knows me (I mean actually knows me in real life, not just virtually), knows I am (or at least strive to be) SUPER ORGANIZED.  Slowly, but surely I have been organizing and then re-organizing each of the rooms in our house.  I still have a ton to do (ie linen closet, spare bedroom closets, garage, barn, etc. ~ you get the idea).

My current project is our Laundry Room.  I don't have a ton of options considering our Laundry Room also serves as our "Mud Room", has zero cupboards (only a small shelf) and four (!!) doors: the backdoor and three of those old fashioned wood sliding doors leading to different areas of our house (kitchen, hallway and bathroom).  Ugg.  Here are some photos from the web and Pinterest I am using for inspiration....

I am not loving the rug, but I love all of the white against the dark walls.

White backdrop, dark baskets and pretty jars.  I love how simple this looks.
Great use of not a lot of space.  Love the accent colors.
Dream Laundry Room.  Yes, please!
Organized & Simple :)

I plan on completing our Laundry Room makeover this week.  I have a ton of ideas, one of which utilizes clear glass apothecary-like jars to store my powdered laundry detergent, baking soda, borax and a few other "laundry necessities".  The problem is I need to find some jars that look like these, without the hefty price tag.

PB Classic Glass Canister ($19.00 $44.00)

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Pottery Barn, but this mama is on a budget.  I found some knock-offs online for about $30 including shipping, however I am impatient and want to find some now (see: TODAY).  Also, I worry about the quality of the glass when ordering online.  It is so hard to tell from a picture.  So, it is off to Walmart, Target and Michaels I go.  (Just as soon as my 8-year-old finishes his homework).  :)

I will update this post with before and after pictures as soon as I take them.  Wish me luck!

9/5/12 UPDATE:   Click here to see some before and after pictures of my laundry room so far.