Sunday, August 31, 2014

Recipe: Watermelon Sorbet

After the success of my Dark Chocolate ice cream, and the pleas of my family for something fruity, I decided to try out Watermelon Sorbet. I do not know what book I got this recipe from, I took a picture of the recipe from the book which I found at my library. I followed the recipe exactly.

Watermelon- Raspberry Sorbet makes 1 quart
¾ c. sugar
1 c. water
2.5 lbs. watermelon without rind or seeds, cut into chunks
½ c. fresh raspberries
1.5 T lemon juice
1 T vodka
Dash of salt
1.            Combine the sugar and water in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sugar dissolves. Boil the syrup without stirring for two minutes; remove from heat and cool.
2.            In a blender or food processer combine watermelon chunks, raspberries, lemon juice, vodka, and salt. Then, pour in sugar syrup and puree until smooth. 
3.            Strain puree into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, about two hours.
4.            Freeze in ice cream maker as per the makers directions. Then , pack sorbet into a container and store in freezer until solid, about three hours.

My Tips:
You can use frozen raspberries instead of fresh ones, just thaw them thoroughly before using and add the juice and fruit.
While the recipe is called “watermelon-raspberry sorbet” it really is just watermelon. The raspberries only deepen the color and give a bit of tartness that brings out the watermelon. You cannot distinguish the raspberry flavor.
The Vodka is technically not mandatory, but it keeps the sorbet from freezing absolutely sold because it is just water in the end and you don’t want a Popsicle; you want sorbet.
When blending the watermelon chunks it works best to really pack in down into your blend and kind of mush it up. It can be hard to get the initial blending action, but once it starts it will blend completely.
The sorbet tastes exactly of the watermelon you make it with so choose a good tasting watermelon. Mine was a bit overripe so the sorbet tastes a bit over ripe. A flavorless watermelon will make flavorless sorbet. 

I hope you guys try this recipe! My family absolutely loved it. My father especially loved it calling it “the best sorbet or ice cream I’ve ever tasted!” Watermelon is his favorite fruit. Overall, I will definitely make this recipe again, it isn’t hard or too time consuming. The most involved part was straining the watermelon.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review and Swatch: Nivea Lip Butter in Raspberry Rose Kiss

I’m such a sucker for lip balms, and even more so for lip balms in tins. Needless to say, when I saw the Nivea lip butter in raspberry rose kiss I had to have it.

Raspberry Rose kiss is a pale pink milky lip balm with a strong, sweet, candy-like raspberry scent. It is not as thick as Burt’s Bees lip balm, but is thicker than chapstick. It is similar in consistency to the Vaseline lip balms. I find it to be moderately moisturizing and lasts an hour or two. As a not also, it is not rose as in the flower, but rose like referring to color. There is no rose scent involved (though I wish there was).

I have no problems with the consistency or moisturizing properties, but I do not like the color. Since it is a milky pastel pink instead of giving your lips a healthy tint (like Vaseline rosy lips) or giving it a clear chine, instead this product leaves a pale milky film. Instead of improving your lips this makes them look paler and almost “dead” or “sick” like. This is really not a good look.
bare lips
with nivea lip butter

The packaging also isn’t the best. While I like tins, this one is a lot thinner and more flexible than the Vaseline tin. I can bend the cap a bit and the cap comes off, in my mind, too easily. The overly decorative front image is also not my idea of what a lip balm tin should look like.

Overall, this is a decent balm for moisturizing your lips, but this is not good for wearing outside on its own, and the packaging is a bit flimsy, so I wouldn’t trust this knocking around the bottom of my purse. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review and Swatch: MAC lipstick in Vegas Volt

The last time I went to a Cosmetics company Outlet (CCO) I picked up this lipstick. CCO’s sell a select amount of MAC products at a discounted price. Like most outlet stores, their products vary widely by store and time. While many of the products they sell are limited edition, this lipstick is Part of MAC’s permanent collection.
Vegas Volt is a warm, peachy orange coral with amplified crème formula. It goes on very smoothly, has a creamy texture, and opaque color.

I found this color to be creamier and less drying than Viva Glam Nicki. It doesn’t grab onto dry patches or flakiness like that color. It has a vanilla scent like all MAC and comes in the basic black tube as most of MAC permanent line lipsticks do.

Overall, this is a fantastic, wearable color from MAC. The formula is great and so is the pigmentation. I see this color getting a lot of wear year round.  I would recommend this classic matte shade to everyone. It is a bit of a bright color, but so wearable! The normal price of this lipstick is currently $16, I bought this at the CCO for $11.25. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thoughts and a Little Swatch: Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipsticks

For the last several weeks there has been much buzz about Kat Von D’s new lipstick line at Sephora. This line appears to replace her previous lipstick line and includes some of the shades from her previous collections. There are 30 shades according to the Sephora website.  They all come in very attractive black studded tubes and cost a bit steep $21.
There have been mixed reviews online and it seems to depend completely on the shade. I’ve heard some are wonderfully pigmented, others are sheer, some are drying and tug, others are smooth etc. I decided to check this out for myself at Sephora. Keep in mind though, my opinions are based solely on looking and feeling the lipsticks in the tubes and swatching on my arm. I did not apply to my lips, nor did I try every color.
My opinions are as followed starting from near my palm:
Wolvesmouth (metallic berry): fairly opaque but very dry; tugging
Bauhau5 (matte deep raspberry): opaque but also very dry and stiff
Lullaby (sparkling iridescent magenta violet) : a bit dry and gritty, but full color. Not bad
A go-go (matte neon orange): creamy, smooth, opaque. A great one!
Coven (matte lavender): dry, stiff, chalky. Avoid.
Wonderchilde (iridescent neon lilac): a bit more sheer than lullaby but soother, creamier, etc. I really like this one!
Poe (Shimmer Navy): opaque, creamy, applied well
LUV (not pictured, matte rich violet): creamy, opaque, very good color!
Overall, I’m not too impressed with the formula for the prices they are charging. If Nyx, Wet n’ Wild, Revlon, etc. can all charge $6, $2, and $9 respectively for a well formulated product, I’d hope it would be great for $21! The color selection though, is interesting and pretty unique. The colors I’d most want to get would be Wonderchile which is more sheer than I’d like but very pretty and creamy, and LUV which is very smooth for a matte considering how dry and stiff most of the mattes seem to be. But, considering the price and that I haven’t tried them on the lips I don’t see myself buying any soon.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cosmetics Company Outlet Review (Visit #2)

According to the internet, Cosmetics Company Outlets get new shipment at the end of every month so this, in addition to wanting the lipstick I left behind last time, encouraged me to go again before going back to university.
I did try to get some pictures this time, but the store was actually crowded this times (as opposed to last time when I was alone) and mostly full of pushy older women near the MAC products, so I didn’t want to seem like the teenager who takes pictures of everything. Because of this I only got a few pictures and only of the lower shelves.

Bobbi Brown

They had gotten in some new products, but unfortunately, none of these appeared to be MAC lipsticks. They mostly seemed to get in a whole lot of (expensive!) estee lauder make up brushes. They also appeared to have a lot of foundation and a decent choice of concealers in most brands. They also, as like last time, had a wide range of eyeshadows and palettes. The lipstick range was unfortunate. They hadn’t gotten anything new in and had sold out of a few from last time. Luckily, they had Vegas Volt so I did buy that. There was a different lady working from last time who was not nearly as friendly (or maybe just a lot more busy?) as the last saleswoman. This time, I would have felt too intimidated to ask to try the lipstick on, but that’s just me.
mac blushes

mac shadow palettes

The lipstick I bought this time (MAC Vegas Volt) is an amplified crème. Apparently, different formulas have different prices so instead of being $10.50 like my Viva Glam Nicki (which is a satin) it was $11.25. Honestly, this annoys me. Even though it is only an additional 75 cents the fact that different formulas cost more (and there is no sign that tells you this) is irritating! They don’t cost more at the official MAC stores! Also, when buying this you are only saving $4.75. Honestly, if there was a MAC store any closer I wouldn’t really come here often. Even though $5 can buy you stuff, for a better selection (and hopefully better customer service and the chance of free samples) I would probably go straight to the MAC source.

A review on Vegas Volt will be coming soon! Do you think it’s worth going to a CCO?

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Summer Wardrobe

I haven't done any outfit of the days during the summer (there really isn't anywhere for me to take to pictures) so i decided to put together a little polyvore pic to give you an idea of what I've been wearing.

1. A-line skirts and dresses: While I used to only wear clothes of the "fit and flair" variety I've lately been into pencil skirts and form fitting dresses.

2. Kimonos and fringe: fringe is in and I like it best on a cute, flow-y kimono!

3. Cut out booties and closed toe sandals: who needs flip flops? I like to have slightly different foo wear during the summer. I'm a bit fan of cut out booties with socks (with lace!) or closed toe leather sandals.

4. Dark Lipstick: Vampy lips are year round for me. I' really loving berry tones like MAC Revel and purples like MAC Violetta or NYX Macaron Violet.

5. Big Totes: I like to carry everything around with me, suncreen, umbrella, five lipsticks etc.

6. Hair off the Face: Bandannas, scarves, high buns, all are good during the summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Review and Swatch: Wet n’ wild Silk Finish lipstick in Hot Paris Pink

            Coral is a great color for summer and since I don’t wear much color when it comes to clothes, lipstick is a perfect place for me to wear it. Wet n wild was buy one get one free this week at rite-aid so I decided to pick up a color I had hear about as part of their mega last range: Coral-ine. Unfortunately, it appears this color is discontinued because there is no place for it in the display.  I instead looked around and found this to be the closest to coral I could find. I only had a few silk finish lipstick because many of them are frosts which don’t look very nice; they look either 80’s ish or like I’m 8 years old. This one fortunately is a crème finish.

Hot Paris Pink is a warm, slightly coral toned bright pink. It had a crème finish. This lipstick isn’t that opaque; I have very pigmented lips so it needs a few swipes or a layer of concealer to lie upon. For this picture I applied a thin layer of a liquid concealer.  The texture is very slick and so it goes on smoothly. It is also not drying at all.
it looks warmer than it does in the photo

Overall, this was a good polish to add to my collection for summer. While it’s not as coral as I’d like it still had a great texture and finish which is very wearable. Also, since it’s only $0.99 why not?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Laduree Sucre Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

I’m on a mission to make as many recipes out of my laduree sucre cookbook as possible, but this is difficult because many of the recipes involve obscure and/or expensive ingredients (I’m looking at you almond paste, candied walnuts, almond flour and my recently purchased orange blossom water) in addition to expensive equipment. One of these equipment boundaries was broken when I found out my uncle had a barely used ice cream machine he would let me borrow. I decided to make the recipe it thought most people in my family would eat: Dark Chocolate.
The recipe is as follows:

Glace au Chocolate Noir (makes 2 pints or 1 liter)
7 oz/ 200 g chocolate (the recipe recommends 70% at least, I used 60% and it turned out to be a bit too dark for some of my family)
½ c +1 T / 100 ml water
2 c. + 2 T / 500 ml whole milk
3 egg yolks
½ c + 2 T / 120 g sugar
1.       Chop the chocolate (or measure out your chocolate chips like myself) and set aside.  In a saucepan, bring water and milk to a boil; remove from heat.
2.       In a large bowl, mix together your egg yolks and sugar. Add a third of the milk over the yolks and mix to temper then pour mixture into saucepan.
3.       Cook this over low heat until your custard comes together; it should coat the back of a spoon and when a finger in run though it, it shouldn’t bleed back. It should never boil.
*Note: I never know when to stop cooking a custard. I cooked this for like 15-20 minutes until I saw bits of egg starting to cook and at that point took it off the heat immediately.
4. At this point the recipe says remove from heat, and add chocolate, but instead I like to clean out the mixing bowl that had the egg and sugar mixture, but the chocolate in there and pour the custard through a fine seize to catch any cooked egg or scalded milk on top.  Then, mix this together. The recipe recommends stirring for 5 minutes.  Cool the mixture ( I waited 2 hours) and freeze to your machine’s directions.
The book recommends letting the ice cream sit in an airtight container in the freezer for three hours after mixing in the ice cream maker to cure and freeze.

This recipe was not that complicated and didn’t involve too many ingredients or expensive ones. For me, the milk and chocolate (the only “special ingredients I had to buy) only cost about 3 dollars together.
I found this ice cream to be very tasty and rich; some of my family said I was “too chocolately” and “too dark/bitter”; I’d image this recipe would work the same with milk chocolate.  As a note, I was impatient and tasted it less than an hour after mixing and it tasted a bit like cocoa powder, the next day it didn’t have that taste.

Overall, this recipe was successful even though I can’t make a custard to save my life. I can see myself making this again in the future (maybe with milk chocolate). 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review and Swatch: L’oreal Color Riche lipstick in Velvety Fuchsia

These lipsticks have been showing up at CVS 50% off and also at Big Lots for $4 (which is slightly cheaper). I saw the color I wanted at big lots so I picked it up.
The color I got is called velvety fuchsia and there is no better way to describe it. It is a very slightly purple pink with very subtle shimmer which only appears as glossiness on the lips. The color is a bit sheer and needed 3-4 passes to get this level of strength.  My lips are also pretty pigmented though and show through this lipstick a bit. The consistency is similar to a lip balm and doesn’t feel drying at all on the lip.
The packaging on the lipstick is probably the nicest that I have. I can tell some of this inspiration is from l’oreal owned YSL with the nice sleek and gold packaging. The color on the side is an insert, not the product, but is pretty accurate for this color.

Overall, this product is quite nice. The color is a bit sheerer than I thought, but is great for those days when I don’t want that much coverage. As it is, I only have about 3 products that give me this level of color. While I would not buy this full price at $10, I am not disappointed at it for $4 though I had hoped to get it a little cheaper.  (Note: After this I was able to find this lipstick and the entire range for $3.99 at Walmart. If you had the $1 off coupon from online or newspaper you could get it for $3.)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Review and Swatch: Covergirl Hunger games collection nail polish in Violet Flicker

While I have looked at these polishes before, I just bought this one recently because the entire line of these mini polishes is 50% off at CVS as part of their clearance sale. I managed to get this for around $1.15 because I also had a 50 cents off coupon.
This polish has an extremely complex color. It is a sort of violet with gold, blue, and pink glitter. The color is constantly changing with the lighting and looks more expensive than drugstore.  The polish is very sheer though, with one layer. I had to actually add three, which I don’t tend to do, to get a nice opacity. Since the bottle and cap are so small, and thus also the brush, it was a bit hard to apply well. Also, since the bottle is so small it contains very little product (only 3.5 ml!) while a normal nail polish had around 13 ml of product.

Overall, this is a beautiful color which I would love to see in a large bottle, but it is still okay at this price point. I wish the color was more opaque and the brush was easier to hold. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Macarons: First Try

If anyone is interested at all in French desserts, then you know about the infamous macaron. For those who don’t it is a type of French sandwich cookie made of an almond meal meringue top and bottom with a filling (often a ganache) inside. Popular brands or “houses” of these macarons are Laduree and Pierre Hermes. These are notoriously hard to bake and there are hundreds of recipes and tips and trick out on the internet to make this process easier.
I have been interested in making these for a long time, but one of the key ingredients, almond flour, is both hard to find and very expensive where I live. While I was in the UK I picked up some almond flour but unfortunately not enough for a full recipe! Luckily, I found a small recipe online and decided to try it out.
I also made the orange curd to go with it, but it didn’t turn out that yummy because I think I used an overripe orange and didn’t cook it long enough.

I followed the directions given making sure to tap the trays vigorously after piping and to let them sit until they had a top layer. I also used Nutella as a filling instead of curd every other time.

My main problem when making these was that there was so little batter and my bowl so big that there was no way for me to actually mix the batter; I could only smooth it against the bottom of the bowl.  This made it harder to judge when it was mixed so I ended up with lumpy topped macarons. I also do not have a piping bag so I used a ziplock (and got ridges because of it.) They had feet though!

Overall I think this was a good first try! They didn’t take as long as I thought they would and I recently was able to find a relatively cheap brand of almond flour and my wegmans grocery store so I will be trying a full recipe soon!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Review and Swatch: Urban Decay Perversion Mascara

A few weeks ago Urban Decay was running a promotion for their new mascara; the Urban Decay Perversion Mascara. They also gave away some samples online to the first several thousand people who sent in their information when the giveaway began. It started around 3am and I happened to wake up to my phone vibrating to the e-mail announcement.  I was very happy and excited to try this mascara!
UD Perversion came in a shiny dark silver tube with purple writing. The tube contained 0.1 fl oz or product. The mascara itself is a very dark black and neither clumpy or runny. The brush is a traditional spoolie brush.  I find the mascara to be good but not amazing or revolutionary. It combs through my lashes well, but not as well as plastic bristles. It doesn’t clump or cause spider lashes, but the appearance is not dramatic and doesn’t keep my lashes curled.

Overall, I find this to be an okay mascara, but not really different or worth the money. It just doesn't amaze me. A full sized tube is 0.4 fl oz for 22 dollars. (so the sample is worth ~$5.50).
I almost didn't include a picture of me wearing it because you can't really tell!