Monday, April 10, 2017

Roomba Review

At Christmas, my little family grew by 1.  Tallulah and I were thrilled to welcome Ben, an 11.8 pound, 13.4 inch robot vacuum.  He has settled in beautifully with our family, and improved my life immeasurably, though I still can't get my dog to ride him.

But seriously, my Roomba has changed my life, which is a little bit hyperbole, but also kind of true.  Getting him set up and ready to go was a piece of cake - plug in, charge, vacuum. I use it two or three times a week, and it makes me insanely happy every time I hit the clean button and leave the house, knowing it will be sparkly when I get back.  I have almost exclusively hardwood floors, which are completely pet hair free by the time Roomba is done.  Most impressive for me is the vacuum's ability to get the gunk out of the tricky spots (against door jambs, corners).  Cleaning him out after the job is done is about as easy as possible, and I love that the brushes pop out, so that I can go to town on them.

So far, the only con is that Ben doesn't always make it home to his base.  Sometimes that's user error; I do some basic pre-cleaning for him, picking up Tally's toys, moving some furniture, but sometimes it's his.  There are a few high doorways in my apartment, and he'll get stuck if he doesn't approach at the right angle.  I don't love playing the where-is-Ben game, but he makes it back to his base 9 times out of 10, so it could be worse. I also do not take advantage of the scheduled clean function, mostly because of that dog poop disaster story, so I can't really comment on how well it works.

Will happen at the next party

To be honest, I think everyone deserves a robot vacuum, even if they are an investment.  The ease of pushing a button and having clean floors is happiness on the same level as baby elephant videos and that first really good spring day.  Treat yo self.

Buy here

Monday, February 27, 2017

February Budget

Light shopping month!  Not really intentionally, but there's that. I actually didn't end up ordering a piece from Brass, which leaves me with an extra code that I can use later (I'm doing the Edit, which gets me a piece a month for 6 months).  If you've never ordered from them, they are doing 25 dollars off here, I can't recommend them enough!

Both pairs of shoes are delightful. Sneakers fit true to size, the heels are comfy enough that they lasted me 6+ hours of making some weird choices!  I wore the AT top for Valentine's Day and got all the compliments, the draping is gorgeous!

Ann Taylor Blouse // $14
Target heels // $35
Disney Sneakers // $18

Linking up with Fran

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Book Review

Okay, well, it's been 6 months since my last book review, so that's realllllll embarrassing.  I have read books in between then and now, though not nearly as many as I would have liked.  Over Christmas, I read about 3 books and bought 8 more, but have barely touched them since.  Part of it was that I started Swing Time and never got into it, but also felt like I couldn't give up on it (so much love for it!) so I basically just ignored books altogether... And then last night I read all of Commonwealth in one sitting, so lets hope there's some traction.

Commonwealth // Ann Patchett is a forever favorite, and Commonwealth is no different.  The characters and detail are so engrossing, it's a book that can make you forget where you are.  Again, I read it cover to cover in one night, not on purpose, but because I got stuck in the one more chapter/one more chapter/one more chapter cycle.  Following the lives of two families that come together in an unexpected way, it's a beautiful book for just about everyone - just real enough, without being a huge downer, plus some exceptionally funny moments.

The Sun is Also a Star // Young adult fiction is one of my favorite ways to get back into reading if I've taken an unexpected hiatus, and this novel was the perfect thing over Christmas.  A story told over a single day, it's definitely YA romance, but also a lovely story with interesting characters.  I found the premise (deportation imminent, girl and boy wander around NYC together) a bit trite, but loved the variety of view points, especially the secretary of the immigration attorney. It never got sappy, but this is absolutely a John Green style book.

The Underground Railroad // I had a bit of an existential crisis after reading this book, which presents the Underground Railroad as a literal railroad under the ground.  I might have spent some time googling, just to make quite sure that was a metaphorical railroad, not an actual one.  Apart from that tiny breakdown, this book is extraordinary.  It's not exactly enjoyable - any book that tells a story about slavery with this level of detail and rawness isn't going to be, but the writing is transportive and the characters are presented in such a way that they seemed three dimensional.  I was floored by this, just like literally everyone else.

Lily and the Octopus // Do not read this book is ASPCA commercials are too much for you.  Lily and the Octopus is a beautiful examination of the relationships we have with our pets, and I absolutely tried to force my dog to cuddle me for a while after I finished it.  One of my favorite aspects of this novel is Lily's voice - literally and figuratively. She is smart and delightful, and her relationship with her human is lovely. The story moves quickly, and the ending was about as good as it gets.

A Torch Against the Night // The second in the Ember in the Ashes series, I loved this book just as much as it's predecessor, which I read like a crazy person, wandering through an airport.  Part fantasy, part adventure, part romance, this is not an adult book, but that's cool.  What it is interesting, many layered, frequently unexpected and exceptionally well-written.  The plot moves very quickly, but balances a number of story lines very well.  A perfect option for Game of Thrones fans sick of George R R Martin's shit.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Vegan Tortilla Soup

Recipe adapted from Thug Kitchen

I feel like it's been weeks since I've had a normal enough weekend/week to justify cooking, and to be fair, I'm actually not sure if this soup is going to get eaten.  What I am sure of is that it's delicious, and because it's vegan, will freeze beautifully.  The recipe is from Thug Kitchen, with a few shifts due to personal preferences.  It's a piece of cake, but the flavor is insanely delicious, and with almost no weird ingredients.  Cause really, who knows where liquid smoke exists in the grocery store!?

Ingredients //

2 small/1 large onions
4 carrots
1 or 2 jalapeños (I did 2, the soup is spicy without being overwhelming, but I like it hot)
4 cloves garlic
2.5 teaspoons cumin, oregano and chili powder
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 lime worth of juice
6 small corn tortillas
1 can black beans
Olive oil and salt

Instructions // 

1 // Chop the onion, carrots, jalapeño and garlic up real small

2 // Saute the onion in olive oil over medium for 2 ish minutes, add the carrots and cook for 3 more minutes, then add the jalapeño, garlic and spices and cook for 30 seconds or so

3 // Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, then the broth. Stir and bring to a simmer

4 // Add the tortilla bits (diced up real little) and lime juice, then let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes

5 // Either use the immersion blender or regular blender to smooth the whole thing out (bought an immersion blender mid-recipe cause gosh darn is it a huge pain in the butt using the magic bullet for this)

6 // Add the can of black beans to the soup once it's blended

7 // Serve with cilantro/avocado/quesadilla/whatever your sweet heart desires

PS I bet corn would be dope in this.  I am regretting the choice to exclude it. Rookie mistake.

Serves 4
Calories per serving // 324
Total fat // 9g
Sodium // 505 mg (depends on broth/beans/tomatoes)
Potassium // 840 mg
Fiber // 13g
Sugars // 12g
Protein // 10G

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Badass Women Supplies

On my drive down to the Women's March, I bought a sweatshirt that says Girl Almighty. Which I basically haven't taken off.  Since then, I've also bough quote prints (pretty much my love language), a tee for me mom and a mug, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of my purchasing power, so I pulled together some of my favorites, all of which (minus the phone case) come from hand made, feminist artisans, many of whom make donations to lovely organizations with every purchase. If, like me, you want your entire life to radiate positivity and girl power, these are good places to start.

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9 // 10 // 11 // 12 // 13 // 14 // 15

Monday, February 13, 2017

Trader Joe Favorites Pt 2

In these times of political upheaval and a pavlovian response to alerts on my phone that takes several minutes to calm down from, isn't it nice to just focus on some delicious stuff?  Trader Joe's continues to reign supreme in provider of my favorite foods, and I've found a few new loves since my first post.

Garlic fries // Relatively new to my life, the garlic fries have changed me.  The fries themselves are delightful, but then you get this garlicky buttery stuff that you pour on and it's heaven.

Dark chocolate peanut butter cups // I am the last person to get on this bandwagon, but if you have't tried the delicious-ness, hop on it.

Swirly cheese // I had not idea what this cheese was called, which made google image searching it hard (trader joes swirly cheese, trader joes brie that tastes pointy, trader joes softish cheese).  Not exclusive to TJ's, this cheese is soft like brie, but the taste is more interesting, like a softer blue.

Soft pretzel stick // The perfect addition to any soup meal, and flawless when made into a grilled cheese, or just eaten out of the bag on the ride home like an animal.

Parmesan crisps // The other perfect addition to soup.  Buy tomato soup, add these to the top, bask in the glory.  Also, caesar salad.

Narwhal tea // Confusing, cause the narwhal is on the inside, but that's what I call it.  It's minty and light and delicious. I bought a record 9 boxes during this holiday season and have finished half of them.

GIANT CORN // If you are into salty, crunchy snacks, these will be perfect for you.  It's basically like crunchier popcorn, with lots of salt and a bit more flavor.  I actually have to portion out the bag when I get home, otherwise I will eat the entire thing in a sitting and hate myself.

Shredded 3 cheese blend // I find most shredded cheese disappointingly flavorless, but not this stuff.  It's bananas delicious and the best egg cheese I've ever found.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Damn Good Skincare Review

About a year ago, the etsy shop Damn Good came across my radar, though I cannot for the life of me remember how.  In my quest to be a little more ethical/sustainable, and support as many local businesses/badass ladies as I can, I ordered a set (face wash, toner, oil), figuring that even if I didn't love it, I felt good about where the money was going. Except I did love it, and have ordered three more.

The Details

In her etsy shop, Kate sells skincare products for your face and body, as well as man stuff, as she calls it.  You can buy each product individually, or in sets designed to complete your skincare routine. There are 3 kinds of toner and face wash, designed for sensitive, oily and combination skins, plus 5 different oil blends, so you can get a bit more specific.  Each product has a very detailed description, so I found it really easy to figure out which formula would work best for me (The Works).

Why I Love It

Supporting a badass lady // Kate, the woman who owns Damn Good, is a mom, wife and RN who makes the products in her home.  She lives in the US and sources almost everything locally, plus her husband looks like Khal Drogo and her kids are adorbs. 10/10 recommend.

Ethical ingredients // All of the ingredients used in Damn Good products are natural and preservative free, and almost everything comes from a local-to-Kate co-op.  Nothing gross, no chemicals, nothing you can't pronounce.

My skin is better // This is (obviously) the best part. Since I started using The Works face wash and toner, plus The Very Best and The Works facial oils, my skin has been pretty bomb.  The face wash is coconut oil based, but has baking soda and tea tree oil in it, so it's moisturizing, but also helps clear off dead skin and treat acne.  The toner and oil have also helped me balance my skin out. I still get hormonal breakouts, but the rest of the month, my skin is clear.

Overall, I've been loving my experience with my Damn Good products.  The prices are reasonable for what the products are.  I wish the containers were a bit more travel friendly, though I appreciate that glass is the right choice (preferable to plastic, certainly).  I love these products and will absolutely buy more