Now that autumn is officially upon us I thought I'd share one of my favorite, easiest, coziest recipes. It is just ridiculously easy, fast, and tastes like you've been cooking it all day. If you are new to cooking this recipe is perfect for you, too. I love this soup on cool, rainy autumn evenings...or anytime. It makes 4 entree sized servings, so G and I have it for dinner, and then take the leftovers to work the next day for lunch. And everyone envies our noms while they're glumly scarfing down greasy fast food!

If you have a Trader Joe's near you, another plus is that you can get all the ingredients for this soup there. You can find these staples elsewhere, but I love Trader Joe's products for this recipe. You won't even use up everything, so you'll be able to save some for next time or for other recipes. These are all super versatile ingredients and useful to keep on hand.

Here is what you need:

1 prepared rotisserie chicken (I got mine from Meijer, it's a bit cheaper there)
1 32 oz package chicken broth
1 jar Alfredo sauce (forgot this at TJ's so I bought Ragu, not the best, but it works in the recipe)
1 jar sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (Trader Joe's version is already julienned for you, so it saves time)
1 jar crushed garlic
1 jar pesto
1 12 oz package dried tortellini
16 oz bag frozen spinach
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper to taste

First, cut up the chicken. You can usually get about 3 cups from one of these rotisserie chickens and you only need maybe 1 1/2 to 2 cups for this dish, so save the rest for another use.

While you do that, heat up the chicken broth in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a light boil, and add half of the dried tortellini. Cook for 5 minutes, then add half the jar of the Alfredo sauce, 1 tablespoon pesto, 1 tablespoon garlic, and about 1/4 cup of the tomatoes. Then add the chicken and heat it though while the pasta finishes cooking. Add 1/3 package of the frozen spinach. Really, just dump it in there still frozen. It will wilt immediately. Heat everything though, season to taste, and serve with crusty bread for dipping.


It is as easy as it sounds, and it is colorful, comforting, and delicious! It is also very versatile; I made a Thai version once using curry paste and coconut milk, so just eyeball it and be creative!

 

Oh, it's September 22nd. I was suppossed to do a Birchbox review, wasn't I? Sorry.
Just kidding, I didn't forget, but Birchbox this month was, sadly, a little forgettable. Surprisingly so considering this was the 1 year Birchbox anniversary and all about celebrating "you", meaning me. I don't know if I felt particularly celebrated, but whatever. I did get my box pretty late this month, the 17th. I thought it might have been worth the wait. Nah, not really.

First, here's what I got:

colorescience pro® sunforgettable® Mineral Sun Protection Powder Brush SPF 30
Incoco® Nail Polish Applique
Jouer Lip Enhancer
Salvatore Ferragamo Attimo L'Eau Florale




I suppose a lot of people might be excited to get those nail applique thingys, but considering I have a stupid nervous nail biting habit, I don't think they make appliques small enough to fit my pathetic excuses for nails. Plus, the color/crystal glitter combo was a wee bit tacky for my taste. Maybe a subtle pink that didn't scream, "hey world, these are nail appliques!" And even though the card suggests you can use them on your toes as well (and I do paint my toenails occasionally), I don't see how they could possibly fit properly on most toenails. The thing I really don't like is that I have gotten nail polish twice in Birchboxes already, and while the first one was acceptable, I pointed out in my product reviews on the website that I didn't have any need for more nail polish (or any variation thereof). So stop sending me nail stuff, please, Birchbox. Unless it's some magical nail growing serum. That would be OK.

And perhaps, instead of those vague, mutable questionnaires where you ask us to identify ourselves as "classic", "trendy", "adventurous", etc., ask us pertinent questions like, "do you have any allergies or products you cannot use or would never want to see in your Birchbox, such as...nail polish, perfume, and so forth." Especially when we don't know exactly if or how you interpret that "trendy" identifier and how its inclusion will affect what products we receive. Just a suggestion.

 
The Jouer Lip Enhancer...was a lip balm. It was tiny. It has no tint and no taste. End of story. Snooze.

The Colorscience Mineral Foundation was a decent size for a sample, and they did at least send me a "fair" shade. It was actually too fair, and looked a little chalky. Maybe I could wear this in the dead of winter, but since I've found Meow Cosmetics foundation, I won't feel a burning need to.

The Salvatore Ferragamo Attimo L'Eau Florale is described as a combination of peony and jasmine, and that's what it smells like. Very straight-forward. I actually do like peony, as far as floral fragrances go, so this one isn't totally awful. It's a little pedestrian and unremarkable, but not bad. It's definitely more of a spring fragrance, not a scent for the verge of autumn.

The "treat", the friendship bracelet, is a bit cheesy, but I may deconstruct it and use the metal doo-dad for some other jewelry project.

One thing that does annoy me is that, if you look here, this forum conversation includes a list of all the possible Birchbox variations for the month. There was apparently 11.
I got box 10, which contained the 4 items listed above. Most of the other boxes contained some core items like the Colorscience or the Incoco appliques and then some varying items. That is fine, but I don't really understand why some some boxes contained everything that I received plus an item like Jurlique Purely Age-Defying Firm and Lift Cream or Jurlique Rose Hand Cream. Considering I've been with Birchbox for 6 months now, I don't think the longevity of my subscription should be a factor. It's only one little extra item, but it's just the idea that one box contains all the items as another except more. Variations are okay, but that scenario seems wrong to me.

Or maybe I'm just turning into a grumpy, bitter old lady.

Are these "Minimalist", "Practical", "Classic", and "Adventurous"  labels supposed to refer to our own profile labels, the whole "celebrating you" part? I don't remember saying I was "Minimalist"...hmmm.
Today I'm going to share the bloggin' love! The lovely olgiepolgie was kind enough to think of me for the Liebster Blog Award, which is for blogs with fewer than 200 followers to foster connections and share hidden bloggy gems. Because we need love too!


Here are some blogs I love!






If the bloggers I've picked are so inclined, please pass the award on to some of your faves!

Rules:

Award recipients, don't forget to:
* Show thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
* Reveal your top 5 picks by leaving a comment on their blog.
* Post the award to your blog.


I've been sitting on this Sephora haul for so long, but I got sidetracked by my recent First Impressions Review, which took forever to compose. So, for a change of pace,  I'm going to do a (somewhat) short and sweet run down of what I got here, and whether I will buy these items again. I also have swatches of all the lip colors. Here's what I got:



Shaveworks The Cool Fix:  This is supposed to soothe razor burn and prevent/heal ingrowns. This is a huge, distressing, painful problem for me (pale, sensitive skin + dark hair= FAIL) so I was eager to try this but not expecting miracles. I like this though, at least better than the sample of Tend Skin I recently tried. That stuff has the consistency of slightly viscous water, and smells like straight rubbing alcohol. The Shaveworks is a gel, smells more refreshing and does feel soothing. The healing/preventing part remains to be seen.
Re-purchase? : Maybe

Soap and Glory Off You Face Cleansing Wipes:  Just your standard face wipes. Removes makeup fairly well. I still think I prefer the Sephora brand face wipes.

Re-purchase: Eh, probably not. Too many other options out there.

Buxom Rock Stars Set : Set of 4 mini plumping lip glosses. LOVE Buxom! The great thing about them is that even though they can look extreme in the tube, they are actually pretty sheer and wearable.  Here are the colors on:


Julie (Tulip Pink)

Tonya (Hot Pink Sparkle)


Blanche (Shimmering Nude)



Gabby (Grapewine Shimmer)


Of these, on the Sephora website I see Gabby and Tonya being offered as full sized. I especially liked Gabby and may get that one in the future.

Re-purchase: Not this set, because it's sold out (sorry). But I always have my eye out for new Buxom sets. 


Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Alpha Beta Peel:  I got this in the trial 5 pack (2 steps per pack). I've used 2 of the 5 and haven't really noticed any discernible differences. It tingles a little when applying but other than that, nothing. I greatly prefer the Juice Beauty Apple Peel I got in my first Birchbox in April (that's what I'm saving my Birchbox points for, actually).

Re-purchase: No. Pretty underwhelming after all the hype I've read about it.

Guerlain Rouge Automatique  Coque D'Or 120 :Got this as a 100 point perk. It's a pretty, bright red with gold shimmer.

Re-purchase: It's nice, but not worth 35 bucks.








Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture in 9 Rose Stiletto : This was a free Sephora promotion. I really do like this one a lot. It's a smooth, matte light rose color, and it smells like roses too. Feels moisturizing and is just a pretty, subtle color. Still, I can't spend 30 bucks on one lipstick. Sigh. I just can't.

Re-Purchase: Alas, not right now.
 

Perricone MD Cold Plasma Face:

This costs 150 dollars an ounce, so no matter how well it worked, I would not buy this. Turns out that the Perricone MD people would have to pay ME 150 bucks to even get this abomination near my face again. I've already mentioned this in my Solstice Scents review, because I just had to cast out the demons of that experience. The smell. Oh, humanity, the smell. It literally made me shudder and grimace when I put in on my face! And the kicker is, it did make my skin feel slightly smoother and more even toned, but I don't care. I will not suffer for beauty in that way, never ever.

Re-Purchase: Um. NO.

Philosophy Miracle Worker Eye Cream: Haven't used this yet, only because I haven't had great experiences with Philosophy and am reluctant to. Don't really like their body washes, they usually smell fake (not all, but many) and have a weird chemical
 after-scent. I tried their Hope In A Jar face cream, and up until Perricone MD, found it to be the worst smelling face cream I'd ever tried. It smelled like the raw chemicals the cream consists of, like the Philosophy people got bored halfway through production and just decided to slap it in the jar without finishing it. Again, a shame, because the actual cream wasn't bad, still, just horribly overpriced. So, I might just let G use this cream; he's always asking to use my face potions anyway.

Re-Purchase: Nope.

That's all for today. Thanks for reading!





















Per the title, today I'm going to share my OOTD, which I have never done, and probably will never do with any regularity. My wardrobe just isn't that interesting. But I really LUV the dress I'm wearing here so I thought I'd post a few pictures of it for posterity.

G and I had a little date night Friday at our favorite local Thai place where I got my favorite food on the planet, Massaman curry. Seriously, I could eat the stuff every day for the rest of my and not get tired of it. It consists of a rich, creamy coconut milk based curry sauce, potatoes, onions, carrots, peanuts, and meat (I always get chicken). The broth is so tasty and comforting I could drink it like a soup. It tastes just like the meal I had at a Thai place called Galanga we stumbled across when we went on vacation in NYC a few years ago. I tried Massaman curry there for the first time. Anyway, we were on the trip with a friend who, bless his soul, doesn't have a very sophisticated or adventurous palate. Not that I'm super out-there myself, but he got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch at Chelsea Market, for crying out loud.

We were hungry and getting pretty grumpy after a long day of sight-seeing and finally decided to separate for dinner. We had already had a disappointing, generic Italian meal the night before in Little Italy. Turned out the travel books were right: DON'T go to Little Italy for Italian!  So G and I were determined to get something memorable and unique. Anyway, J found himself a nice safe place where he could get fries and a burger (yawn). We, on the other hand, found Galanga. And a love affair was born. I want to get back there very, very badly, so every time I go to Thai 9 in my area, I feel like I'm a little bit closer.

Moving on, here is my outfit:



The dress is from JC Penny. I wanted it so badly, and it was the last one on the rack, but a size too small. I bought it anyway, and I made that sucker fit!
The sheer lace wrap is from Forever 21. I like getting open cardigans, wraps, and loose tops from there, because their clothes are simply not made to fit women with um, substantial chests. Sometimes I try tops on there and they fit me like they'd been left in the dryer or were a child's top. Then I usually start laughing out loud in the changing room and probably sound nuts. Like, are you SERIOUS?



And here is my makeup look:


\

Lid: Fyrinnae Shinigami
Crease: BFTE Karma and Spank Me
Liner: BFTE Livid
Highlight: BFTE Baked

Thanks for reading!





This is a strange introduction to my assessment of Solstice Scents but I just have to comment on the irony of this or I'll just burst. I just this very minute tried the most foul-smelling, Bog-of-Eternal-Stench-esque skin cream that I have ever encountered in all of creation or among all the miracles of biochemistry that I have ever slathered on my face. It was a sample of Perricone MD's Cold Plasma that I received in my recent Sephora haul (report forthcoming). How can something that costs 150 dollars a bloody ounce smell so positively nauseating? It's some cruel taunt, like, yeah, we know you can't even afford this stuff, so we're going to make it work great but smell like death incarnate just to kick you while you're down? I expected with a name like "Cold Plasma" it would smell benignly pleasant or neutral in a high-tech sort of way, not literally like some kind of animal by-product or like fish entrails or pale, wobbly, half-dissolved gelatin. You'd think with all the technology at their disposal they could at least add a hint of masking fragrance to cover up all the evil lurking within!

Ok, I know that was not what you were expecting to read in a review of lovely, luxurious, delicious perfumes and bath and body products, but I simply had to write about it so I could appreciate all the goodness I've experienced this week just that much more. And also simply to comment on just how fascinating and varied the world of scent is. For every jasmine blossom and exotic musk there is a rotten egg and broken sewage pipe. We all interpret and explain each smell differently and associate every variation of scent with our own memories and unique perspectives, and when the smells are applied to our skin, our skin chemistry affects and causes scents to evolve in interesting and often unexpected ways.

I once read, in the excellent layperson resource on scent What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life that perfumes are marketed through two different modes of transportation: Ingredient Voice and Imagery Voice. Ingredient Voice is an artistic recitation of the perfume's ingredients and composition, which is often only useful to perfume experts themselves, those who have actually smelled such notes individually and therefore can anticipate how they would interact together, leading to an understanding of the scent. Imagery Voice, on the other hand, creates an impression of the scent and describes what the scent is actually like; it paints a picture through which one can experience the scent through emotional and visual cues. This is how I prefer to describe scents myself. I am no perfume expert, have no idea what vetiver or various rare resins smell like, and even if I am able to pick up on some notes, I find it much more helpful to explain them in terms of an image or an atmosphere rather than try to use more and more adjectives to describe the notes I'm already describing. So, let us commence with another big, fat First Impressions Review, shall we?
I feel sort of bad posting my last Fyrinnae haul pictures, since the site at the moment is closed. But I am pretty happy I was able to make another order at all, so I will share the bounty!



Top Left to Right: Rapunzel Had Extensions, Medieval Haunting, Snow Leopard, Damn Paladins, STFU, Monarch Butterfly
Bottom Left to Right: Dressed to Kill, Sorceress, Darling Misfit, Shinigami, Sleepy Hollow, Njordr


These shades are all new for me, except Rapunzel Had Extensions. I ADORE this shade and had to get another sample of it. That pink with gold sheen combo is absolute magic. I find myself seeking it out in other products. I found a somewhat similar shade in an Avon nail polish recently!


Rose Gold
 Here are the swatches from my haul, all over Pixie Epoxy:

I've had my Haus of Gloi order for a bit over a week now, and have had a chance to spend some quality time with everything, so I think I'm ready to describe it all as best I can. And at length, but would you expect any less from me?

First off, I've always been really apprehensive about buying bath/body/perfume things online, because scent is so subjective, and you never know how your skin might react to certain ingredients. So that was an indie area that I have not explored at all, though I would read little tidbits here and there.

And then I started reading a lot about Haus of Gloi. Owned by Britton and Matt from Gresham, Oregon, I instantly liked their aesthetic, sort of medieval-ly, but also fun and whimsical (bubbling sugar scrub anyone?). It's like an
anti-Bath and Body Works, and I found that very appealing and refreshing. I used to shop BBW pretty consistently, but in recent years I've found myself loathing all their new scents (too sickening sweet, citrusy, or plain similar-smelling) while they continued to discontinue the scents I actually liked (my favorite, white tea and ginger! You can still get it at the semi-annual sales though). Generally, I think it was about time for me to try something new in the bath/body/scent arena. 

I perused their website, which I found easy to navigate, charming and professional-looking. The packaging looked creative and well-executed, a strong brand identity-concept, plus I loved that everything is vegan (I'm not, but it's a bonus if I like the products). Also, everything sounded positively scrumptious. As in, transcendent, blissful, otherworldly experiences await you in every little bottle, in every little whiff of perfume and dollop of lotion. These scents had heft, complexity, depth, they told stories! Exactly what I had been wanting. And the descriptions, well, take this one for example:

Steam billows rolling off a vessel of fresh made Turkish coffee, marshmallow goo tainted by graham cracker crumbs, toasted hazelnuts and blanketed in black chocolate.

Or this one:

Pure corruption: clove, nutmeg lurk amongst the sweetest offerings of coconut, on a bed of rich golden amber, laden with dustings of sandalwood and spilled wine.

Or this one:

Freshly turned earth, wet leaves, and a cool herb laden wind carrying spectres and spooks!

Sheer poetry, I tell you! I've found I have a weakness for such olfactory tales woven with ingredients, notes, and scents I might actually recognize and have an emotional affinity for, not just some mass-produced perfume that smells "nice" in an amorphous sort of way, but a scent that actually evokes an image, a moment, a memory, a journey, something tangible and identifiable. I think the Samhain scent is what really grabbed me to begin with and convinced me to try the Haus. I have a deep love for Autumn and a strong visceral reaction to the sensations, smells, colors, and atmosphere of fall, of walking through leaves, rain, the sky....oh my. To be able to wear that smell everyday....
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