One Local Summer 2017 – Meal 4

See, I knew I was going to get behind on these, so while this is meal 4, it’s technically week 7.  Things have been a bit crazy, so while I haven’t had time to put together exclusively local meals, most of what I eat while the farmers market is in full swing ends up being local since that’s where I do the majority of my grocery shopping.  Anyway!  This is a bit of an ambitious dinner for me, but it’s a pretty awesome one, if I do say so myself.  The centerpiece is the banh bao, a Vietnamese pork bun.  Husband came across these on his travels for work at one point or another and we figured the recipe had to be fairly easy – meat and a hard-boiled egg in a dough wrapper.  We found a recipe online and made a huge batch a few years ago.  They freeze and reheat surprisingly well, but it definitely is quicker work with two people.  For this version, I made my own self-rising flour using the ratio here, making a 3 cup batch of flour.  The original recipe calls for milk and sugar, so I substituted in 1/2 cup honey and 1 cup of goat’s milk yogurt to keep it local.  My flour is also a whole wheat flour, so they didn’t come out perfectly white like the traditional banh bao, but that’s just cosmetic anyway.  The filling consists of a hard-boiled quail egg, scallions, and ground pork.  I even took half the batch and added a few cheese curds just for fun.  The quail eggs are a new offering from our farmers market poultry vendor this year, and it’s neat to be able to use quail eggs instead of quartering a chicken egg.  The poultry vendor’s two girls are raising the quail and running the whole quail egg operation on their own, so supporting the next generation of farmers as well as two young girl entrepreneurs sweetens the deal!  Going around the plate, next we have sliced, roasted cheesy asparagus.  I picked the bigger asparagus lot at the market, sliced them on a mandoline slicer, then tossed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and topped with cheese.  Into the oven at 425 for about 8-10 minutes, and voila!  The cookies may not be made with local ingredients, but they are from a farmers market baker.  Supporting local business is part of the One Local Summer equation, so while it’s a bit of a cheat, it’s chocolate chip cookies, how could I not?  In the glass is some more homebrewed mead to finish out the meal.

Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – Mill at Anselma
Quail Eggs – Deep Roots Valley Farm
Ground Pork – Countrytime Farm
Scallions – Jack’s Farm
Cheese – Cheese curds and Fat Cat from Birchrun Hills
Asparagus – Hill Creek Farm
Cookies – The Flour Fairies
Honey – Our Beehives
Goat’s Milk Yogurt – Shellbark Hollow Farm
Non Local – Salt, pepper, olive oil, baking powder

One Local Summer 2017 – Meal 3

This is late to go up on the blog by about three weeks, but here’s meal number 3 for this year of One Local Summer.  Husband was back briefly for the weekend, so I set him straight to work in the kitchen, as you do.  He’s far better at improvising a dinner on short notice and working with the ingredients at hand while I always feel the need to plan things out and have a recipe in order to cook.  It’s a pretty basic sort of meal with a meat, vegetable, and salad, but I can assure you it was anything but basic!  The pork butt steak was seasoned with just salt and pepper and cooked on the grill.  The collard raab was done up in a cast iron skillet with scallions, spring garlic, and a little bit of vinegar.  On the side is a simple salad with radishes, the radish greens, and the remainder of the Mâche topped with olive oil and homemade vinegar.  We ate outside on our new deck since it was a stunningly perfect spring evening and a nice way to enjoy a One Local Summer meal!

Mâche – Jack’s Farm
Radishes – Charlestown Farm
Collard Raab – Charlestown Farm
Pork Butt Steak – Countrytime Farm
Scallions – Jack’s Farm
Spring Garlic – Jack’s Farm
Non Local – Olive oil, salt, pepper, homemade vinegar

Sephora Play! May 2017

May’s Sephora Play! has arrived!  For those of you that are avid Sephora Play! fans, my box variant was #264, and my profile is set to dry skin and dry hair.  Unfortunately, it seems like the profile went out the window this month since I got products that are all for “Normal to Oily” skin or oily scalp.  Complete miss on the product selection there, Sephora.  The theme this month was, “The Rising Stars,” and I think this might be the first theme that they actually paid attention to the theme.  All those brands are relatively new and are gaining popularity, so, well done.  The bag is different this month too – it’s a clear vinyl bag, perfect for stashing away on vacation (possibly airline carry-on safe as well?).

  • Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub – 2.7 oz / $19 – (Product is 1.35 oz, value of $9.50 by volume)  This is actually a combo sea salt scrub and shampoo.  There is no chance that I’d ever use anything like this on my dry scalp since it contains sea salt (REALLY?!) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate.  I haven’t used a product with SLS on my hair in years since my curly hair doesn’t need to be stripped of all of its oils with such a harsh surfactant.  It’s funny because this is the only product the company makes that contains SLS.  And the very idea of rubbing sea salt on my scalp when I have a terrible problem with dryness.. that’s just a disaster waiting to happen.  I saw other people report that this strips out color (I dye the ends of my hair a vibrant red using semi-permanent vegetable-based hair dye), so this is a HARD pass for me.  It’s also pretty heavily perfumed.  I think I may repurpose it as a plain old body scrub or exfoliator, but this isn’t going anywhere near my hair.  The company is cruelty free though, so that’s awesome!
  • trèStiQue Highlight & Perfect Multipurpose Stick – .21 oz / $34 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $6.48 by volume)  I’m not a big fan of highlighters to begin with, but this is one of those light, opalescent highlighters instead of a glitter bomb.  It’s subtle, so I actually like this as a brow bone highlighter to set of eye makeup.  It may be just a hair too light for my skin tone, and I’m pretty fair-skinned, but it’s also the only color they offer.  The company is also cruelty free.
  • Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser – 4.2 oz / $45 – (Product is 1 oz, value of $10.71 by volume)  SUNDAY RILEY!  I know and love Sunday Riley already since they’re a wonderful cruelty free company.  This product says it’s for normal to oily skin, but I love the brand so much, I don’t even care, I’m going to use this up and not even worry about the fact that it doesn’t at all fit my beauty profile.  The product dispenses as a cloudy liquid gel that works into a gentle, light lather (not super foamy, just every so slightly bubbly) and rinses away cleanly.  I didn’t find it was drying, and the scent was very light.  I’m not sure I’d go in for the $45 full size version, but it’s great to be able to try this out!
  • Nudestix Magnetic Matte Lip Color – .1 oz / $24 – (Product is .088 oz, value of $21.12 by volume)  I’m not sure why we couldn’t get the extra .012 oz to make this a full size?  It seems kind of silly.  But, maybe it’s all for the better since this color, “Greystone,” is quite possibly the most hideous color in the history of lip colors.  It’s brown.  Poop brown, dirt brown, disgusting brown.  I’m not sure this color would look good on anyone.  I heard people have tried layering other colors over it, but the formula is so opaque and strong that there’s nothing that can make it look good.  I mean, all of that would be awesome if it was a pretty color, but this isn’t.  It’s terrible.  The company though is cruelty free and there are other colors in this line that I actually like, but brown lipstick?  No.  Just no.
  • Maison Margiela Replica Eau de Toilette – 3.4 oz / $126 – (Product is .04 oz, value of $1.48 by volume)  The scent is, “Beach Walk,” and is actually not terrible!  The bergamot definitely comes out on top, and while the floral ylang ylang is there, it’s tempered a bit by the musk and cedarwood.  It’s a light scent that isn’t a stinky floral and I could absolutely wear this without wanting to scrub it off my skin.  It’s not enough of a hit that I’d ever pay $126 for a bottle, but it’s nice enough that I’d use up the sample.  Unfortunately, the parent company is L’Oreal, and this company does test on animals.
  • GrandeLips Hydrating Lip Plumper – .05 oz / $27 – (Product is approx 1.2 mL?, value of $20?)  I’m totally guessing on the product size – it looks about the same volume as the perfume once you remove the applicator.  It’s pretty close to being full size though, just in different packaging.  I tried this out already and while it does tingle, it doesn’t burn.  I can never really tell if these plumping products actually make a noticeable difference, but it works well enough as a hydrating gloss that I’ll use it regardless.  This company is cruelty free too!

Overall the value of the box this month comes to $69.29 which is pretty huge for a box that only costs $10.60 a month including tax.  Definitely one of the bigger value boxes!  I do have to give Sephora some credit this month too since I’d been ranting on about wanting a cruelty free box, and this one was SO close!  The only thing that was from a non-cruelty-free company was the perfume.  I’m not sure if it’s just because newer indie brands understand that their consumers are looking for cruelty free cosmetics and there’s no need or reason to test cosmetics on animals or sell in countries (*cough-China-cough*) that require the barbaric practice, or that Sephora actually aimed to include cruelty free products this month.  Either way, I’m glad to see it happen, and LOOK!  No Estée Lauder products this month!  It’s like they were listening to me!  So, out of 6 products, two were complete failures which leaves me with 4 products I’ll use.  I am a little disappointed that they seemed to not have bothered looking at the profiles this month, and I’m kind of sick of getting highlighters already, but I still want to hang on to this subscription for a bit since the price point is low and I’m still getting enough wins to make it worth it.  Looking forward to the next month!

Vegan Cuts Beauty Box May 2017

I decided to try out a new box, the Vegan Cuts Beauty Box, and this month was my first box.  I’ve known about this one for a while, so when they ran a 6th birthday special last month, I hopped right on!  While I may not be vegan (I still eat meat, but for the most part it’s from local farmers that I know and trust who run smaller scale farms), I do make an effort to buy only cruelty free beauty products and find that vegan products are a little gentler on my skin.  May’s box is themed, “Beauty and the Beach,” and features summer go-to beauty products.

  • Salis Skincare Blackhead Removal Mask – 2 oz / $14.99 – (Product value $7.50 per product card, possibly 1 oz?)  Three simple ingredients create a unique mask that is meant to remove blackheads and make your pores look smaller.  You’re supposed to use this as an overnight treatment on problem areas, and the added sulfur means that it will no doubt make a great acne treatment too.
  • Little Moon Clear Mind Mist – 2 oz / $6.30 – (Product value $3.15 by volume)  The scent contains eucalyptus, grapefruit and rosemary, but I don’t like eucalyptus at all as a scent, so to me, it smells more like Vicks VapoRub and cough drops rather than anything that would make me feel alert and focused.  Huge pass for me, but I know I have a friend who will like this.  The company does have a “Sleep Comes Easy” mist that’s definitely more my speed though with bergamot, chamomile, lavender and lemon, and “Beach All You Want” is coconut, sandalwood, and tangerine which sounds perfect!
  • Nubian Heritage African Black Soap – 5 oz / $4.99 – (Product value $3.49 by volume)  This soap came at just the right time!  I usually use a charcoal soap on my face and it was just about done for, so this is a welcome replacement.  The soap smells delightful, mostly like shea butter I think, and contains oat flour and tea tree oil to help clear up breakouts.  My skin is usually dry, but I like a soap like this to give my face a solid clean before applying moisturizers, and the tea tree oil helps keep those occasional breakouts in check.
  • Luxie Dreamcatcher Foundation Brush – 1 brush / $20 – (Product card says $20 value, but I can’t find this online)  The brush is the #510 foundation brush in the Dreamcatcher color which is this pretty bluish purple.  I’ve gotten a couple of Luxie brushes before and love them, so this is another great addition to my brush arsenal!
  • Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Eyeshadow – 1.8 g / $14.50 – (Full size product)  I’ve gotten a couple of things from Lauren Brooke before, so I’m happy to see this show up in the box!  The color is a really lovely matte dusty rose or orchid kind of color.  The formula goes on perfectly matte and smooth, and the color works really well for a light, every day sort of look.
  • Pair’d Beauty Dry Shampoo – 2 oz / $6.00 – (Full size product)  Okay, I’m not into dry shampoos, but this is a wet, dry shampoo, if that makes sense!  It’s a liquid instead of a powder, so there’s no need to brush it into my hair to distribute it, so no ruining my curls.  The scent is “Sweet Cali Orange” and contains just four ingredients – water, maize, ethanol, and essential oils.  I’m going to have to give this a solid try out as a second-day-hair product.  My hair doesn’t ever get greasy (it actually gets drier and drier the longer I go without washing it), so I don’t need the maize to soak up oil, and I’m a little concerned about the ethanol further drying out my hair and making frizzies.  So, the jury is out on this one so far.  The scent is nice though!

Overall the value of the box comes to $54.64 which is well above the cost of even a month-to-month subscription at $22.95 per month.  I did have some trouble finding some of the product values since the product sizes weren’t listed on the products themselves or found discrepancies between the product card and value on the manufacturers’ websites.  The only thing that I’m passing on out of this box is the Little Moon mist, but everything else I’ll use or at least give a fair try.  The big winners for me are the brush, black soap, and eyeshadow for sure.  It’s funny, the box has been sitting at my desk most of this week (it arrived.. Tuesday I think?), and the soap smells SO nice, I almost want to leave it at my desk a little longer!  Anyway, this was a great first box from Vegan Cuts, and I’m looking forward to next month!

Espionage Cosmetics BOOM!Box May 2017

Oh hey, it’s May, that means another edition of the Espionage Cosmetics BOOM!Box has arrived!  I completely forgot this was a May thing, so when I saw the box on my doorstep this morning, I was pleasantly surprised.  This month’s theme was, “Battle of the Badlands,” and was teased as featuring items from our favorite dystopias.  The theme was right up my zombie-loving alley, and may be one of my favorite boxes so far!


  • Drylands Map – SO much awesome in one little map.  This came rolled up in a tube, but flattened out pretty easily.  Both sides are printed with the back being a plain surface that looks like a distressed parchment paper.  It was designed by Jessica Freaxx who did an AMAZING job.  The map design is a collection of cities from all kinds of different dystopias from WALL-E to The 100, Shaun of the Dead, and even Zombieland to name a few.
  • You’ve Got Red on You T-Shirt – Created as a collaboration with Jordandené, this t-shirt has that classic phrase from Shaun of the Dead.  This is one of my most favorite movies ever, so I’m absolutely IN LOVE with this shirt.  The fabric is a super soft cotton, and I’m beyond over the moon for this.  I have .. plans .. for a better photo shoot for this shirt that I couldn’t quite accomplish today, so I’ll probably post that at a later date.  [insert evil cackle here]

  • Heda Necklace – Made of two layers of faux leather on a ball chain necklace, this necklace is amazing.  I am a huge fan of The 100 so this is perrrrfect.  The black faux leather top layer is imprinted with “Jus drein jus daun,” and lays over a brown faux leather layer to make the Trikru symbol.  The back of the card lets you know that the chain was left extra long, but you can easily snap off the excess length to shorten it to your liking.

  • Twinkie – It’s a Twinkie!  Definitely a reference to Zombieland, this addition to the box gave me a good laugh.  The unsinkable Twinkie also made an appearance in WALL-E, and just like in the movies, I’m pretty sure Twinkies will outlast us all (although this one may not last a week).  Such a great reference to two excellent movies!
  • Wasteland Wanderer Nail Wraps – These glossy nail wraps are a reference to the Fallout video game, specifically to Vault Boy’s outfit.  I can’t say I’ve ever played the game myself, but I’m familiar enough with the franchise to have picked this out right away.

  • Dead Inside Nail Wraps – OHBOY OHBOY.  ZOMBIES.  This is just such a neat take on The Walking Dead and I’m going to need eleventy more of these.  The nail wraps have a glossy finish with silver foil accents that make it look like you’re watching for zombies behind the (apparent) safety of a fence.  There’s even a glow in the dark accent! (Click here to see)
  • Borderlands The Pre-Sequel Nail Wraps – This is another video game franchise I haven’t yet dipped my toe into, but I keep seeing references to the game everywhere, so it might be time!  These are glossy nail wraps in super bright colors, and even if I don’t know much about the game, they sure are pretty.

Values are always hard to assign with this box since most things are custom-made just for this box.  I know that the Jordandené shirt retails for $30, and the three nail wraps would be $10 each which makes for a running total of $60, so we’re already way over the cost of the box which is $30 per month plus shipping, making the cost $36.25 in total.  I can’t get over that t-shirt though!  I have a bunch of other Shaun of the Dead themed tees, but this one is so perfect and so different from the others.  And, that necklace!  I’m definitely wearing that out this weekend.  So yeah, yet another box that completely knocked it out of the park for me!  Next cycle’s theme arriving in August has already been announced and is, “The Perfect Storm,” which, YES PLEASE.