Subscription Boxes

Well, I just discovered a new addiction.

One of my coworkers recently had two boxes of interesting snacks on her desk and informed me that they were from subscription delivery services.

I’ve seen this idea around for a while, but I’ve never bitten. Yet.

However:

  • I love to shop
  • I love surprises
  • I love presents
  • I love to get packages
  • I am a sucker for so many things, so why not these?

 A quick perusal of My Subscription Addiction (yes! This is a real site) showed that there are subscription boxes for just about anything: vegan snacks, whole meals, artisinal chocolates, retro candy, socks, craft kits, entire outfits, cosmetics, etc, etc, etc.

 These caught my eye:

  • Graze.  This is a healthy snack site. You choose the snacks you want delivered and how often. This is one of the boxes my coworker had, and I have to admit, the snacks look good. She gets one box per week. The portions are small (Ok, they are appropriately sized for a snack but I could eat all four at once). This is also an inexpensive site since each box is about $5.
  • Nourish Snacks. This is another healthy snack site. For $12.50 per week, you get five healthy snacks, each less than 200 calories.
  • POP Sugar Must Have. it’s hard to describe this box, but it’s full of random trendy items like candles, jewelry, books, home decor, fashion accessories and cosmetics. It’s $39.95 a month, with a discount if you pre-order several boxes at a time.
  • Birchbox. This is one of the original companies in this area. For $10 a month, you get deluxe beauty samples.
  • New Beauty Test Tube. This is another cosmetic/skin care sampler, but it focuses on anti-aging products. Which, sadly, I really need.

 I think I’m going to sign up for Graze, POP Sugar and New Beauty, at least to give them a whirl.

Compression Socks

Last week I posted about workout recovery, and I can’t believe I forgot to mention compression socks.

I first saw runners wearing these in races about 5 years ago, and I mistakenly thought they were just channeling a retro vibe with knee-high gym socks like these:

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Instead, they were wearing compression socks.

Now, compression socks aren’t new to the medical industry. They’ve been recommended for decades for patients with chronic leg swelling.

The idea is that the (super tight) socks provide graduated compression that pushes fluid up from your feet and ankles toward your knees. This, in turn, promotes circulation and keeps fluid from pooling in the lower legs.

Translation: No more puffy cankles at the end of the day.

Athletes then started using them to promote recovery after hard workouts and improve performance during activities like racing.

My BFF T. gave me a pair of compression sleeves for my birthday a year ago, and man, they are awesome. Sleeves are like socks minus the toe/heel parts.

I wore mine over the weekend after a 15 mile run on Saturday – including while I slept – and on Sunday morning, I could have run 15 again.

I decided to get a few more pairs to mix it up and also have some to wear at work during long days in the OR.

These first two are from PRO Compression:

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These Sugoi ones are retro and high-tech at the same time:

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Try them!

 

 

 

Twirl Dress

Hands down, the fashion statement of the summer around here was this dress, worn ceaselessly by Trixie:

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The picture above is a stock photo, but here are a few shots of Trixie wearing it – variously – as a museum dress, a hiking dress, a princess-meeting dress, and a dinner dress. There seems to be no occasion that would be inappropriate for wearing it.

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The primary attraction seems to be the major twirl factor, owing to its chiffon skirt overlay.

I’ve been wrestling it away from her once or twice a week to wash it, and overall, it’s held up well.

I originially ordered the dress from CWD Kids, but then I discovered that the brand – Bonnie Jean – is available in many styles from several other retailers.

In a major shopping score, I discovered that Dillard’s has many other Bonnie Jean dresses on final clearance, with some equally twirly ones as low as $10. 

I scooped up several other styles, including a back-up of this beloved 2014 staple.

Twirl on, Trixie. Twirl on. 

 

More J. Crew Sale

OK, I really lost my mind with the J. Crew sale.

Yesterday I posted about some of the items I ordered, but there are two other outfits I wanted to share.

(Did I mention that all of this is an additional 40-50% off the sale prices? It would be a crime NOT to buy these).

 Outfit #1:

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Both of these are hard to see, but the shell has a mixed-lace pattern and the pants have a leather tuxedo stripe running down the side. The top was $30 and the pants were $25.

Outfit #2: I bought this with work in mind.

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Seriously, how fun are these shoes?

The pattern mix with the striped dress and the shoes feels really modern to me.

J. Crew has been doing these Valentina pumps for a while, and they’re a perfect not-too-high, not-too-low heel. They usually retail for about $240. With the additional discount during the sale, the price was $113.

The Schoolboy Blazer is another J. Crew classic. I have a few of these already, and they are real workhorse wardrobe staples. This black one was only $50 on sale. Score!

 

Neon at J. Crew

Quick!

J. Crew is having an awesome sale right now, and you can get an additional 40-50% off final sale styles with code “TREAT.”

I’m still seeing a lot of pops of neon on summer clothes, and even though this isn’t the freshest trend, I justified buying this with the extra 40% off:

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This was only $36!

I bought this tunic in the spring, and the orangey-pink neon embroidery is a lot brighter than it looks in the picture. Alas, it’s on sale now.

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Here are a few more fun items:

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I’ve had my eye on the kiwi photo floral print top for some time now, and it was a steal at $42.

 

 

 

Opening Bubbly

Our neighbors gave us a bottle of sparkling wine recently as a thank-you for the numerous times that Ever Patient Spouse helped them load and unload their kayak from the roof of their car.

Last Saturday night, it was a gorgeous summer evening that seemed perfect for sipping some bubbles.

Don’t be intimidated to open champagne or other sparkling wine.

The cork only flies off haphazardly in movies, not real life, nor does it spray wildly out of the bottle unless a pro athlete vigorously shakes it before it’s opened at the end of the Super Bowl.

To open:

  • Remove the foil.
  • Untwist the wire cage. Keep your thumb on top as a precaution while you untwist, but it’ll be fine.
  • Hold the bottle in its mid-section with your non-dominant hand.
  • Cover the cork with a towel and grasp the top with your dominant hand.
  • Turn the bottle, not the cork. It should release with 3-4 turns.
  • Pour, toast and enjoy!

Cheers!

For a really spectacular presentation, consider sabering the bottle. This isn’t as hard as it seems, and the WOW factor is extreme.

Here’s how to do it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candy Bar Brownies

Our friends P & T invited us over to their house on Sunday, and I gallantly said I would bring a dessert.

Except that I barely ever cook, I didn’t have much time, and I couldn’t think of anything to make.

And then I remembered these candy bar brownies.

I saw this recipe in a newspaper column about five years ago, back when we were still living in Texas.

At the time, it seemed over-the-top decadent for a picnic or potluck, which struck me as being particularly Texan.

These brownies couldn’t be easier (even for me!), and they turn out great every time. You can also mix up the filling, but I am partial to the original recipe.

Ingredients:

Here’s what to do:

  • Spray a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with cooking spray
  • Prepare the boxes of brownie mix according to instructions
  • Pour half of the raw dough into the prepared pan
  • Top with broken-up pieces of the candy bars
  • Cover with the rest of the brownie mix
  • Bake at 350 F for one hour. This last part is important! It takes a long time for these to be done.

Here’s a snap from the half-way point:

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I leave the candy bar pieces pretty large and distribute them so that each brownie will have a bit of candy.

After baking, the candy bars form a truffle-like layer of filling that is absolutely delicious.

A few tips:

  • Don’t try to skimp and just use one box of brownie mix, unless you use an 8″ x 8″ pan. Otherwise, they’ll be too thin and you’ll lose the layered effect if you use a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  • Box brownie mix is also fine for this recipe, since the truffle-y filling is the star.
  • There’s something about the smooth and creamy texture of the Symphony bars that make them well-suited for this, but these would also be awesome with Reese’s peanut butter cups in the middle.