PopSugar Must Have February 2015 Review

PopSugar Must Have is a subscription box service that sends out a monthly curated box of luxuries. It is $39.95 a month, or less, if you subscribe for a longer period of time. They offer monthly, 3 month and 6 month subscriptions. The value of the box is usually 2-3 times what you pay for it.

This is on par for my favorite subscription box, rivaled only with Golden Tote. Here is the PopSugar Must Have February 2015 Review.

Fresh Take 5 - PopSugar Must Have Review

Tarte Cosmetics Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Suggested Retail $26

I am not really a blush person so I’m debating if I should try this or just give it away.

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U.S. Apothecary Rose Water Bubble Bath

Suggested Retail $30

This is such beautiful packaging. I can’t wait to try it.

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ACME Party Box Company Bamboo Heart Cutting Board & Cheese Knife

Suggested Retail $32

Ehh, a person only need so many cheese plates, but the heart shape is cute for Valentine’s day.

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Bauble Bar Mini Arrow Pendant Necklace

Suggested Retail $32

This is by far my favorite item in the box. I have worn it constantly since getting it. It is so pretty and delicate.

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Figs & Rouge 100% Natural Balm

Suggested Retail $8

This little tin of lip balm is adorable and immediately went in my purse.

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Chuao Chocolatier Ravishing Rocky Road Bar

Suggested Retail $6

I am not a huge fan of marshmallows so Kyle claimed this bar and according to him it was just ok.

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Sally Beauty FingerPaints Nail Color

Suggested Retail $5.50

This went to use immediately for adorable Valentine’s Day nails for me and my daughter.

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If you are thinking of giving PopSugar Must Have a try, please use my referral link. Thank you!

Triple Sec Taste Test

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Triple Sec Taste Taste

In our last taste test post, we compared some different quality rums and additions to see how they affected a few different drink recipes. This time, we’ll keep it simpler.

I’ve always wondered how much the quality of a Triple Sec in a Margarita matters, especially given that it could easily be overcome by all the other ingredients. So we conducted a blind Triple Sec taste test to find out.

The Test

We made two different margaritas and blind taste tested both:

  • 1.5 oz Tequila Blanco
  • 0.75 oz Cheap Triple Sec (Dekuyper) in one, Cointreau in the other
  • 0.5 oz Lime Juice
  • No salt on the rim

Final 2

The Results

If I were trying to impress anyone, I’d say there was a huge difference. There isn’t.

That said, there was a subtle but definitely noticeable difference.  The version with the Cointreau had a strong fresh orange taste and smell upfront, with a cleaner finish. Cointreau has a higher alcohol content (40% versus 15%), so it made a stronger margarita, with a crisper finish.

On the other hand, my wife preferred the version with the cheap Triple Sec (Dekuyper), as it was sweeter and not as strong. I really didn’t mind this version either.

In all, at around triple the price, the Cointreau definitely added a subtle difference. For our admittedly unrefined palettes, it probably wasn’t worth it given the other majority ingredients in the drink. In a drink where it was the majority ingredient, it might be.

 

Challenge COMPLETED: 5 Keys to Successfully Organize and Purge

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

We made it!! We have reached the end of our 40 bags in 40 days challenge. It has been hard, easy, and time consuming all at the same time. I thought, for the final post, I would leave you with the 5 biggest biggest factors to successfully organize and purge your house that I learned while completing this challenge.

What’s the 40 bags in 40 days Challenge?

5 Keys to Successfully Organize and Purge Your House

1. Start Small

Make a list of all the areas in your house that are in need of organization and purging. Now take that list and divide each item into a few smaller areas.

The biggest challenge in cleaning, organizing, and purging your house is actually starting the task. Make it easier on yourself by making each project a 20 minute one instead of a 5 hour one. For instance, when I started this challenge I had trouble focusing it down to tasks and just identified the kitchen on my list. After struggling to really get started I realized I didn’t have time to organize and purge my kitchen as a whole. BUT, I did have time to clean out the spices and reorganize them. And then the next time I had 20 minutes, I hit the pots and pans storage. And so on.

2. Strategize Organization

Spend a couple of minutes coming up with some storage and organization ideas for your problem areas. Your best resources for this are friends and family or Pinterest. Check out my organization board here. Don’t be afraid to do something really different from how you are currently doing it. The biggest change I made was organizing my pantry by type of food (e.g. Mexican, Italian, Asian) as opposed to canned goods, boxed goods, etc. This has made making a grocery list so much easier since this is how most grocery stores are laid out. Also its a huge benefit for meal planning.

Once you have an idea for some tools that may help, stop by the dollar store or order them from Amazon.

3. Purge!

The first thing you should do is pull everything out of your identified area and get rid of anything unneeded, broken, or unused. This will be hard for some people (me!), but really try to pair it down to the essentials. Make sure you have multiple bags for the purge: donate, trash, and recycle.

4. Implement Your Organization

Add in the organization system that you found in step 2. Remember its ok to take breaks if it doesn’t look like it will be completed in your allotted time. Also, you may have to divide the task even further down into sub tasks.

5. Allow for Adjustment

Most organizational systems don’t work perfectly right off the bat, allow room for you to change your mind about how things will work.

Check out how my fellow bloggers finished up the challenge.


Reconnecting with Your Spouse Using the 5 Love Languages

As Valentine’s Day fast approaches, I’m sure you have though about gifts for your significant other and perhaps, even purchased something already. Either way, you should consider learning about the 5 Love Languages and making it part of this Valentine’s day for you both as a couple.

Reconnection with Your Spouse Using 5 love Languages

The 5 Love Languages are part of a theory based on the book by Gary Chapman. In essence the theory is that we all are partial to receiving love in a certain “language” and that language is not always necessarily the same as our partner’s. So in other words, you need to know the language your partner receives love in in order to effectively communicate your love to them.

The 5 Love Languages, according to Gary Chapman, are:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

I highly recommend hopping over to this site for a quick quiz to identify your main love languages. Then, send the link to your partner and have them complete the quiz. Make some time to share your results with each other. The site is good at going into detail about each language and gives examples. At best, completing the quiz with your significant other will highly increase your relationship. At worst, you spend twenty minutes really talking with the person you love, its a win-win.

couple in florence

 

 

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

I am not super into getting gifts for kids for Valentine’s Day, but I do like to get a little something fun. Preferably something that is not candy (they get enough of that) and not crappy plastic toys. Here are my picks for gift ideas for kids for Valentine’s Day.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Kids - Fresh Take 5

1. Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush for Kids

With all the candy they will receive you can’t go wrong with a toothbrush. This will probably be our pick for a Valentine’s Day gift for this year. We have gone through a ton of those cheapo electric toothbrushes and are ready to invest in a highly rated and recommended rechargeable option.

2. Kinetic Sand

This has been on my wish list for the kids for a while now. A sensory sand that never dries out, sounds fantastic.

3. Thermos FOOGO Phases Stainless Steel Straw Bottle

These things are awesome for day to day use and therefore make a great gift.

4.  Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board

Another toy that has ulterior motives of teaching. Parenting win.

5. Llama Llama I Love You

A cute Valentine’s Day book from the acclaimed Llama Llama series. I love gifting books and this one is perfect for helping understand what Valentine’s Day means.

 

Rum & Limes

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Taking a couple key ingredients at a time from our previous post “How to Stock Your Home Bar“, we’ll explore the various drinks you can make and how much the quality of the ingredients really matters.

We all know the price difference between the top and bottom shelf at the liquor store, but how much does it really matter? Do you need to be a connoisseur to taste the difference? Can you tell in drinks with a lot of other ingredients?

For this week’s post, we chose two of my favorite ingredients: Rum & Limes. Based on the “How to Stock Your Home Bar” post, limes are an absolute staple of your home bar. Rum is as well, but choosing which rum to keep in stock may be a challenge as many drinks separate between white, gold, dark and aged rums.

We played around with three different rums throughout the drinks: A cheap white rum (Cruzan), a cheap gold rum (Bacardi), and a good blended aged dark rum (Zaya). There is a pretty large gap in quality there, as the Zaya is over double the price of the other two.

 Daiquiri

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The Daiquiri is the simplest combination of rum & lime. It’s really just rum (usually light/white rum), simple syrup, and lime juice (See the recipe here).

We tried this with both a cheap light/white rum (Cruzan) and a good dark rum (Zaya).

With the sweetness of the simple syrup and the tartness of the lime, it was tough to tell much of a difference between the two. The version with the better rum was noticeably better, but my recommendation here would be to stick with the traditional cheap white rum as the taste difference was not worth the price difference especially where the traditional expectation here is for the white rum.

Captain’s Blood

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The Captain’s Blood (See the recipe here) usually adds dark rum instead of light/white rum in addition to Angostura bitters. This added a nice complexity that allowed us to compare the cheap gold rum (Bacardi) to the more expensive dark/aged rum (Zaya).

We were a little surprised by the results. While the bitters added a nice complexity, we appreciated it more with the cheaper rum, probably because the cheaper rum lacked complexity in the first place. We actually wished we hadn’t added it with the better rum, as it masked some of the complexity and vanilla/caramel taste that was already there.

All in all, I’d recommend the expensive rum here, but would tune the other ingredients down to not take away from the rum. A perfectly valid  alternative is to use the cheaper rum and go nuts with the bitters!

Brookstone

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The Brookstone is a variation of the Captain’s Blood, found on the Perfect Drink app I’ve mentioned before.  the only difference is that it swaps simple syrup for maple syrup.

Based on our previous findings, we used only the Zaya on this one, and played with the Maple Syrup versus simple syrup.

The difference was subtle, but we noticed that the simple syrup brought out the lime flavor, while the maple syrup brought out the really nice vanilla/caramel flavor in the rum without imparting any noticeable maple flavor. This was well worth it. I’ll be keeping maple syrup on hand from now on, as it will be interesting to play with in the future where simple syrup is called for.

40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 5 Update

Eeek! I am a day late on this. I’m sorry! It has been a crazy week of stomach bugs in our house, yuck.

This week I tackled the kitchen and our organization systems there for the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. You can see where this all started here.

Spice Cabinet

We used a leftover piece of closet shelving, cut to size, to serve as a way to display spices in the cabinet. I love this organization system because it allow me to see and pick out the spice I want without emptying the entire cabinet. Plus it was really easy to do.

40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Spice Rack Organization - Fresh Take 5
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Spice Rack Organization – Fresh Take 5

 

 

Pots and Pans Organization

I added an extra divider in my cabinet to hold my pans vertically so I can take the one I want, use it, wash it, and replace it without having to restack everything. Let’s be honest, the restacking never happens and things end up a jumbled mess so I am excited to have this change.

Vertical storage for pans
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Vertical Pan Organization – Fresh Take 5

 

 

Pots Organized
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Pot Organization – Fresh Take 5

The pots are still stacked for now. If you have a brilliant idea for this, I am open to hear it.

 

Here’s the finished product.

Pot and Pan organization
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Pots and Pans Organization – Fresh Take 5

 

Take a minute to check out all the great ideas happening over at the other bloggers taking the 40 bags in 40 Days challenge.


Easy Valentine’s Day DIY Play Dough

Easy Valentines Day DIY Play Dough

I’m fully ready to admit that I am not crafty at all, but I wanted to do something fun with my almost 3 year to get her excited about Valentine’s Day. I decided to go with a super easy Valentine’s Day DIY: play dough with red food coloring.

So while I can’t guarantee your toddler will be patient and helpful in the preparation of this “craft” (mine was not), I can guarantee they will be super excited about it and the recipe will be easy.

The Dry Ingredients

 

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The Wet Ingredients

 

Create hole in center of dry ingredients

Dont over mix

Flour surface

Play

Easy Valentines Day DIY Play Dough

Easy Valentine’s Day DIY Play Dough

  • 2 – 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Cream of Tartar
  • 2 cups near boiling water
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon food coloring
  • Extra flour for kneading
  1. Combine the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine wet ingredients.
  3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and slowly add wet ingredients while stirring.
  4. Do not over mix.
  5. Let cool 10 minutes.
  6. Flour your countertop and hands and add flour while kneading until you reach a dough-like consistency.
  7. PLAY!
  8. Store in fridge for up to 1 year.