Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow!....ball cookies

So it's not really snowing here yet.  There was some dust on the ground this morning but it didn't last long.  But it got me thinking about snowball cookies.  I used to LOVE these cookies as a kid.  There was this weird Japanese/Chinese/American buffet style restaurant called Todai where you could get random Chinese food, sushi, and lots of other seafood.  But the thing that really stands out in my memories was the dessert bar.  They had a ton of mini cakes which were all okay but by the time I went to get my second serving of desserts, my entire plate would be filled with snowball cookies.  I would later fill my plate a third time (at least it was a small dessert plate and not a full dinner plate size!) with another heaping of snowball cookies that my mom would wrap up in napkins and stealthily sneak into her purse.  We would enjoy those snowball cookies for the rest of the day and next.  Mmmm. 

So anyways, I had an intense craving for snowball cookies and that's all I could think about at work.  MUST HAVE SNOWBALL COOKIES!  But I didn't want to just find some and buy them.  I wanted to make my own!  And so I did.

Here is my first batch of totally uneven and large unwieldy balls.  They still taste good!  But I always hated getting the sugar all over me as I bit into them so I wanted to make another smaller bite-sized batch.
Oy, look at the mess this makes!  All that powdered sugar everywhere!
Up close shot of the bumpy cookies. 
My lil pug was staring at me forlornly.  She was very upset with me because normally after work she spends the majority of the evening in my lap.  She could also sense that I was doing something with food and that made her even more upset because she wasn't getting any. 
So here is my second smaller sized batch.  Don't they look cute?  It's hard to make them round because you can't roll them, they crumble.  So it's a lot of squeezing and patting. 
Sugar time.  Lots and lots of sugar.  There's a half cup of sugar already inside those bad boys!
Powdering these cookies was fun and totally reminded me of that I Love Lucy episode where Lucy and Ethel are working in the candy factory and dipping those candies in the chocolate.  
They also kind of remind me of powdered cubby hole donuts.  Mmm I used to love those as a kid too.  Dang my mom let me eat all sorts of crap as a kid.
I moved closer to the oven and so did my lil pug.  Aw I didn't notice it at the time but look her little tail is uncurled because she's so sad!  So sad!
But these cookies demanded my attention! 
Ok, ok I'm almost done!  We can relax on my couch soon!  But then I'll have to get up again for a second powdering when they're fully cooled down.  Sorry!
And then it's tasting time!  Mmmmmm.  Todai!
So there are a ton of recipes for this online, all with slight nuances.  I used a mixture of them based on whatever ingredients I like best:

Snowball Cookies!
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter (lotsa butter!)
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

So simple!  So few ingredients!  Some people use pecans instead of walnuts and almond extract instead of vanilla.  But I like walnuts best and didn't want any contradictory nut flavor, so I stuck with vanilla.

Mix the sugar, softened/melted butter and vanilla together.  Add the salt and flour and mix well.  Add the walnuts in last.  I tried pounding the walnut chunks to get them smaller because the size of the walnut pieces affects your ability to make tight balls.  

After everything is mixed, take the batter and form small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  The first time I made 1-inch sized balls like everyone said, but I thought they were too big.  The second batch is probably more like 1/2-inch sized.  You can do whatever.  With this mixture I was able to make about 50 of these cookies on one cookie sheet.  These cookies don't spread when cooking so you can put them pretty closely together.  I had mine about 1/2 inch apart.  

Bake at 350 for 15-20 mins (I found them best at about 18 mins with my oven).  Take out and let cool a little.  When cookies are still warm roll them around in some powdered sugar and then place back on rack to cool.  When fully cooled roll the cookies in sugar again.  Lotsa lotsa sugar!  Sprinkle some on top while you're at it!  I've read that these can stay good in sealed containers for a few days but are also pretty good frozen.  I'm curious to see how they'll taste after they thaw.  

Enjoy!  And try to avoid looking at how messy your powdered kitchen is.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Clothes!....For My Pug. And Current Product Favorites

I got new clothes!!!  Uh not for me, but for my lil smug pug.  

First up is a pink pea coat.  I think this looks adorable but unfortunately it's a teensy bit too small and she doesn't seem to like it.  She wasn't able to get in proper #1 and #2 positions and so I ended up tearing it off like a madwoman as the freezing winds blew my hair and scarf into my face.  It felt very dramatic.

It also covers up her fat tail a bit.  I wish they had made it more of a chest band instead of a belly band.
I also got her a festive holiday sweater with hood.  I loved the idea of the hood with pom.  She resisted the hood at first.
But soon gave in.
Ugh this one is also a tad too small.  I just left the belly band open.

Love the pom!  And there's a pocket at the bottom of the sweater.  Why would a dog sweater need a pocket?!
And last is a pink cable knit sweater I got for her to wear indoors.  My bedroom gets pretty cold, even with the heat up, because I have ceiling to floor windows.  I also don't let Sunny on my bed so she has to sleep on the floor in her own bed and I think it's even colder there.  Sunny loved the pink sweater!  Well, she at least didn't fight it or seem bothered by it.  So we have a winner!  Unfortunately only pink was available in her size so I'll have to wait to get other colors.
So this isn't a totally pug posting, I'll do a brief note about some products although I won't include photos (that takes forever to do).  These are some products I'm currently loving lately:

Dior Crayon Eyeliner (Waterproof) - Loving this.  I've been using this as my standby black eyeliner pencil.  I use it to tightline my top lid before I go over it with a liquid liner and to get my waterline on the bottom.  This is the best eyeliner pencil I've found for this.  MUFE is pretty good too but Dior is slightly better for me.  

Dermalogica Age Smart Mult-Vitamin Thermafoliant - GREAT exfoliant!  I like using a manual scrub.  I've tried just using the enzyme/chemical exfoliators and those do nothing to my skin but make it pink sometimes.  I have exfoliation issues.  I'm convinced that my face and body requires more manual exfoliation than average because my skin just doesn't shed dead skin cells as well as it should.  Anyways, this warms up as you rub it into your skin and my skin looks amazing afterwards.  I think this has been improving my skin texture over time.  I use it about 2x a week.  I also have the daily microfoliant by Dermalogica which I also like but it's a little too gentle for me.  I need a harsher scrub every now and then.

Shu Uemura hard formula for brows - I never talk about brows stuff because I have found my HG and will never look for another brow product again.  I have no desire to because I can't imagine anything that would to p this.  This is probably my only truly HG product.  I have this in Seal Brown and Stone Gray.  I got the Stone Gray in desperation when the Seal Brown was sold out.  It's fine but Seal Brown is truly the perfect shade for me since I don't like my brows to look too dark.  This stuff is amazing.  It only deposits color when it reacts to the oils in the brow hairs so it's impossible to mess up.  Also, one pencil will last you FOREVER.  I've had the same pencil for a few years and I use it every day and I'm not even halfway through it.  Amazing.

Murad Skin Perfecting Primer (Dewy Finish) - My skin really agrees with Murad stuff.  And it really really loves this primer.  I bought my second bottle in one of my recent Sephora binges.  This claims to disguise imperfections while evening out and even improving your skin.  This is very very sheer and light.  I didn't think it was doing anything at first to be honest.  But I still used it on weekends when I didn't want to put on a full face of makeup but wanted something to even out my skin a bit.  And I started getting compliments on my skin all the time during the weekend.  Even if I had zits, the rest of my skin and its texture looked much better.  My sister even commented that my skin looked better with just and no foundation.  I don't know if I'm ready to go totally foundation-less to work just yet though.  I haven't tried the matte finish because I don't really like matte finishes in general.  Even though I constantly strive to make my skin not shiny, I still want it to look glowy.  There's a difference between an oil slick and a luminescent glow.

Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow - Love all of the ones I have.  But I definitely reach for Flatter Me and Get Figgy the most.  I was surprised at how much I liked Get Figgy.  These eye shadows are almost impossible to mess up.  For real. 

Peter Thomas Roth Uber Dry Sunscreen (SPF 30) - Great sunscreen.  I went for a long time without applying a regular sunscreen and instead relying on the miniscule SPF in my other face products and makeup.  In my defense, I rarely saw the sun.  I went from my apartment to subway (couple blocks), subway to work (cross the street) and then was in work until the wee hours long after the sun had set.  But now that I have a lil smug pug that I have to take out regularly, and as I become more haggard in my old age, I decided I needed to find a daily sunscreen.  I hate the feel of sunscreen though so I was intrigued by PTR's claim to have an uber dry sunscreen.  It may not be uber dry but it's the driest one I've found.  In the summertime I sometimes blot my skin with a tissue after applying and before putting on makeup but during the fall and winter, no worries.  I don't think it gives the white cast in photos, but I'm not positive.

And as far as things I'm not impressed with from my recent purchases:

Boscia Luminizing Black Mask - Feels weirdly tacky and didn't do anything for my skin.  I think I'll stick with my Kose White Mask.  

Nude Skincare Deep Cleansing Mask - Doesn't really do anything for me.  And when I got a couple zits on my chin it didn't do anything to dry it up.  I ended up having to use my DDF sulfur mask.  It's weird because I always think my DDF sulfur mask is doing nothing but when I switch to another mask I realize the subtle but important benefits of the DDF sulfur mask

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Huge Sephora Haul (long post) - Darn You F&F and VIB Sales!

So the Sephora F&F sale this year tempted me to buy a few items: 
(1) MUFE lipliner in nude beige; (2) Dior crayon eyeliner in Trinidad Black 094; (3) MUFE concealer pencil; (4) Clinique airbrush concealer in neutral fair; (5) restock of Peter Thomas Roth uber dry sunscreen spf 30 (love this sunscreen - perfect for oily skinned people); and (6) Peter Thomas Roth instant mineral powder spf 45 (accidentally ordered 2 so I'll have to return one or give it to my mom or sister). 

Sorry that's the only photo I took because I got lazy and there' was nothing that exciting there.  Although I have to say the Dior eyeliner pencil is excellent!  I tested it on my hand the night I got it and forgot about it.  I washed my hands with soap several times through the course of the night and as I was getting into bed I noticed the eyeliner was STILL THERE.  Amazing!  Granted it was a teensy bit smudged but not bad!  I wore it today to tightline on my top and for my bottom lid and it stayed put pretty well!  It did disappear at the end of my work day but at least it just disappeared and didn't smudge and give me raccoon eyes.  Love it.  Love Dior.  The Clinique concealer is pretty good so far too.  The color is a good match for covering my dark circles.  Not a huge fan of the MUFE pencils - disappointed in them.  And while I love PTR's uber dry sunscreen and love the concept of the mineral powder when I opened it up for the first time it created a huge mess!  And there was so much loose powder wasted in the cap.  I'm hoping this will get better with time and ease up a bit because I'd like to carry this in my purse without having a gross powdery mess.

So I was satisfied with my haul....kind of.  Then something horrible happened.  Sephora emailed me about the VIB discount and I went a little crazy.  I kind of lost all self control.  But I must say that during this crappy week I've been having, opening this package totally cheered me up!  And I may not be psyched to go to work tomorrow morning but I am excited to try some of my new purchases!  Behold, my HAUL:

Sigh, so pretty. 

So I bought a couple Sephora brushes - one powder and one contour.  I wish the contour brush was a bit bigger though.  I bought these mainly because I liked how they were shiny and colorful, they got good reviews, and I liked how they came with a cap.  Great for traveling.
Bristles are pretty soft!  I'm not super picky about my makeup brushes.  I have a range of high and low ends in my small collection.  So long as they are soft and don't shed a lot I'm fine.
I love my Benefit cream eye shadows so much (I had Birthday Suit and Flatter Me), I wanted more.  Much more.  So I bought from left to right: Get Figgy, Skinny Jeans, Strut, and R.S.V.P.  I love them all.  Beautiful colors and smooth and easy texture.  I also love my Dior cream eye shadow but they only have one shade on Sephora.  Why?!  Probably good for me though because I would have spent more money then.
Here are swatches in reverse order from the photo above.  So from left to right, RSVP, Strut, Skinny Jeans and Get Figgy.  And, this is after I let it dry for a few seconds and then tried rubbing them off.  GREAT staying power.  
Another photo of the colors in slightly different lighting.  I'm thinking that I can use Strut to help keep my eyeliner on my lower lid in place.  I usually use liquid on top but not on bottom because they end up disappearing or running.  So I'm going to try using my Dior pencil eyeliner and then smudge it a teensy bit with Strut.  I may not look work appropriate but I take comfort in that I have a coworker who wears a crazy amount of eyeliner every day and no one bats an eye at it.  I mean crazy.  Like put on a heavy smoky eye and then sleep on it, wake up and go to work.  I think Strut and Skinny Jeans will go well together.  And R.S.V.P. and Get Figgy are just beautiful colors that I'll use as regular eye shadows.  
I may be one of the few people in the world who does not like the Shu Uemura eyelash curler.  And I love many things Shu but their curler does not fit my eye right and pinches quite often.  Not as much as non-Asian brand eyelash curlers though.  And I know some people like Koji but that pinches me too and it feels like a cheap eyelash curler.  It's a struggle to use it.  I always like the Shiseido curler back in the day before I tried Shu or Koji but I always forgot to add it to my purchases.  So this time I finally remembered and decided to go back to Shiseido.  This fits my eye perfectly for some reason.  And I looove the dark chrome finish!  This is new!  The old Shiseido I had looked like any other eyelash curler all shiny regular metal.  But this looks so sleek!
See that nice and wide curve?  Fits my lil eyes so well!  Package comes with extra pad.  I always lose the extra pad though and don't even know how you're supposed to replace it.  And how often are you supposed to replace it?  By that point my eyelash curler is so old and gross I just get a new one.  I'm so happy to be back with my tried and trusted Shiseido curler!
Also got some Murad clarifying toner.  I know that toner doesn't really do anything except usually dry the skin out but I like the idea of having something to wipe my face with on a day when my face feels particularly grimy or dirty.  I probably won't use this every day, just on days when I need it.  Like when I fall asleep on my couch with a full face of makeup on and wake up in the wee hours of the night with a growing zit and oil slicks all over my face.  Oh yeah.
Also got the Boscia lumizing black mask.  This looks just like my Kose white mask so I decided to try it out.  I like some Boscia stuff - I have repurchased their botanical blast cleanser 3x in a row - but I haven't liked all of their things (like their moisturizer and eye cream).  So we'll see.  But if this is as good as the Kose white mask I may switch over.  I love Kose white mask but it's hard to find and buy!  I don't want to do a purchase for just my mask.  If I could find an equivalent mask at Sephora that would be awesome.  Anyways, this is a black mask that you let dry and then peel off.  I haven't tried it yet, but will give it a try this weekend.
I am in search of a new detoxing/cleansing mask.  I've been using the DDF sulfur mask but it stinks and I think as I get older it may be a bit too drying.  Whereas I used to love that tight feeling as a clay mask dried on my face, now I just worry that it's causing mini wrinkles as it gets caught in my creases and dries.  Also, I'm not sure if this really does anything.  It definitely doesn't work as a spot treatment on me.  So why bother with the stinkiness?  So I came across this pricy Nude mask that I believe doesn't dry hard and so won't be as drying.  It also got good reviews so I'm excited to try this one too!
I like the packaging.  I'm such a sucker for packaging.  The top is a screw top and snaps into place.  I love that.
And it doesn't smell like the DDF mask!  Yea!
I also finally bought a new mineral foundation.  I've used Bare Minerals for several years now.  I loved it when I first got it but now I've concluded it's good, not great.  I also feel like there must be improvements and better ones out there now that Bare Minerals isn't the only brand out there with mineral foundation.  After weighing Laura Mercier and Dior, I decided to go with my new love Dior.  So I got the Diorskin nude natural glow fresh powder makeup spf 10 in light beige 020.  Love the packaging, but idiot me could not figure out how to open it for a good 2 minutes.  I wasn't sure if it was a pull off lid or twist and it wasn't budging either way!  For future reference, it's a screw top.  Look, there's my hand waving hello! 
So purdy.
There was a sticker thing on top that was so clear I couldn't figure out how to take it off.  That took another 2 minutes.  I felt like a total idiot.  With the sticker on, there were these perfect little beige square holes.  I loved it and didn't want to disturb it but all products have to be opened at some point. 
So here's my ugly dry hand with a little bit smeared on.
And then here's my hand after I rubbed it in.  I didn't use a brush because I was lazy so I'm curious to see how this will look on my face tomorrow.  Doesn't it have a great subtle glow to it?
Then, the blushes and highlighters.  Jeez, Dior sure does know how to do packaging.  My friend said I should buy a J'adore Dior shirt and wear it all the time.  Maybe I will, maaaybe I will!
So I spent a full night debating whether to buy the Diorskin shimmer star in amber diamond or rose diamond.  Both got great reviews.  Amber diamond is more for a bronzey glow while rose diamond is more like a blush glow, so you should pick based on what you want to use it for.  Uh, problem - I do both!  Not on the same face, but on different days depending on my mood, my skin color, etc.  Both looked so beautiful so I caved and bought both.  And let me tell you, I do not regret it one bit.
Amber diamond is on the left and rose diamond is on the right.  They are very subtle shimmers.  I tried doing a swatch but it wasn't showing up as much in the photo.  I plan on using these in addition to whatever blush I may be wearing that day.  This is for a little bit of a punch and added highlighter/shimmer.
It's quite big and comes with a large mirror.
I had to be strategic in taking photos of a compact with a mirror without showing up in the mirror.

Close-up of amber diamond.
Close up of rose diamond.
I also got Diorblush in A Touch of Blush 829.  Was in search of a new powder blush with a bit of a natural pink.  This looks great in the pan and I'll try it out tomorrow morning.
All of the Diorblushes come with one solid color on the left and a matching shimmery color on the right.  You can use the left one in your hollows or contour and the shimmer for a highlight or on the apples of your cheeks.  It comes with a small brush that I plan on never using except in emergencies.
I've been on the search for a lightly scented body lotion in a pump form.  I used to like the Ren grapefruit lotion but Sephora no longer sells it.  Why?!  I also liked how it was a bag inside the pump so I could be sure to get every last bit out.  Well my options were limited so I decided to get Philosophy's amazing grace which is supposed to be a firming lotion.  Got great reviews and I've been in need of a good body lotion as the weather has been getting cooler.  I've been using my Fresh lotion but it's so hard to squeeze that bottle.  It's like it's made out of super plastic.  Why would you make your lotion bottle so hard to squeeze?
Here it is amongst the carnage of my haul.
I love pump lotions.  But, I kinda don't like the smell of his lotion.  In fact, I kinda hate it.  It's strong and reminds me of cold cream or something.  Like the Ponds cold cream my mom used to use to take of her makeup when I was little.  It doesn't help that I put it on my hand and then ate sweet potato fries that I made getting nauseated each time I brought my hand to my face and the smell mingled with the sweet potato smell. But even without that, the smell sucks.  I don't know why people like it so much.  BUT, I have to say it's a pretty great lotion.  Light, moisturizing and sinks in very well.  Why couldn't they make the scent better?!  

Here's my dry dry hand with a splotch of lotion.
Here's my hand after I rubbed in the lotion.  Look how dewy and well moisturized it looks!  Ignore the dryness near my wrist and thumb because I only rubbed the lotion on the top of my hand.
Ah, I love a good haul.  Now I've vowed to myself that I won't buy anything else new for the rest of this month.  

I've also become obsessed with origami again.  Not all, just mini puffy stars and lotuses.  It started when my niece handed me a piece of origami paper and demanded I make something out of it.  She had already cut it up and so it was a long strip.  And all of a sudden my memory was triggered and I remembered how I used to make tons of mini puffy stars out of Snapple bottle labels in college.  I had one empty bottle that I filled with stars anytime I got bored or was watching tv.  I forgot who taught it to me but I think I learned it in high school.  It was so weird, it was like those flashes of memories you see people get in tv or movies and think "It never happens like that!"  So I went crazy and couldn't stop making the mini stars.  I even got my mom interested but she couldn't do the mini stars (even though it's so easy!) and instead has been making a bunch of cranes.  And then I came across instructions for a lotus and after many failed attempts I found a way to do it that makes it much easier.  I love making them.  It's almost therapeutic.  Like how knitting must be like for lots of people, only not as boring.  I love making a ton of these as I watch tv.  I'm also filling up these little mini pails with stars and will give one each to my niece and nephew.
The only thing that sucks about origami is that you produce all these fun pretty things that have absolutely no use.  At least with knitting my sister ends up with a nice scarf that she can use (and she does make great scarves).  Oh well.  That's why I plan on handing these over to my niece and nephew so that my sister can deal with disposing of them.  

I also love to do a little bit at work when I need to just zone out and relax when things get tense or during my lunch.
And, because no post is complete without a gratuitous pug pic, here's a photo of my lil pug on a walk.  
I've dumped so much money at the vet lately she's become my lil furry money pit.  She has bad allergies and all her scratching led to an infection on her lower belly and a scratch on her eye that in turn led to scary green eye boogers and a drooping red lower lid.  It happened so fast!  And with pugs you do not want to risk anything happening to the eyes!  So now she's on antibiotics and I have to put eye drops in her eyes 2-3 times a day.  This is very difficult.  Her big bulging eyes are both bad and good.  Bad because they're prone to scratches and other problems but good because it makes for good large targets for eye drops.  But she is very wriggly.  Look at how pooped she is below after we had our daily eye drops struggle.