Tuesday, March 24, 2015

BarkBox Review

I know I haven't posted on here in forever but my life has been entirely consumed by work and my 4 hour round-trip commute. Something else that is still very much present in my life is my beautiful pup Minnie. She is a medium sized Goldendoodle and is now 9 months old, weighing in around 45 pounds!

One of my favorite things I've done for her is to order a year subscription to BarkBox. I cannot say enough about how much we've enjoyed the monthly box of treats arriving on the doorstep. As much as I love going to Pet Valu and looking around for toys/treats, there is something really fun about a surprise box of goodies that I usually have never heard of. It seems like Minnie can even tell that the box is for her while I'm opening it, she gets so excited! It's interesting to try new things, especially with a younger dog when you're not yet sure what her favorite flavors or types of toys are. Something I really appreciate about the box is the theme. Not all of the items always fit the theme, but most do and it is definitely a little touch thrown in there for us "parents".

The first item is something that came in this month's Island Paradise themed box, Yeti Dog Chew Golden Nuggets. I was extremely confused by these at first as they are just beige squares that instruct you to microwave them before giving them to your dog. Weird, right? As Minnie was being a particularly good pup today I decided to try these out. I followed the instructions and microwaved them for a little more than a minute, and watched as it puffed up! After letting it cool I removed it and it was a larger, hard beige square. Not the most appealing but she loved it and I watched as she crunched away. I'll definitely be saving these for "higher value" treat situations as opposed to an every day treat.

In January, Minnie received an "Ice Age" themed BarkBox, which is perfect because here in northern New Jersey the snow seems to be unending. Along with some amazing-smelling gingersnap treats that she refused to try was this oblong blue rubber toy called "icicle". Minnie absolutely loves this for the days she wants a more durable toy to chew on as opposed to a soft toy. This actually also has a squeaker inside which is difficult for me to squeak but she has no problem with it. 

Next up is a plush toy that Minnie and I love but everyone else in my house hates: this bizarre looking moose. There are multiple ways to interact with this toy, which is surprising for a plush. The neck stretches, there is a squeaker in the head, and the body makes an almost quacking sound when shaken up and down. Minnie loves this because she can grab it by the head and run around with it to make the "quacking" noise. Other people in my house find it slightly annoying on occasion but I think it's fun!

Last, but not least, are these Jambalaya treats. As mentioned previously, my step-father is from New Orleans originally, so I've learned a lot about food and music and culture from down there. I was so excited when Minnie received a Mardi-Gras BarkBox last month! There were also King Cake treats (actually peanut butter flavor) and a mardi gras mask toy, but I thought these were the most creative/authentic. When looking at the ingredients list, as I always do because I am a crazy dog lady now, I was impressed to see nearly all of the ingredients that go into real jambalaya. These were a hit with my pup and I've been rationing them so they'll last longer. 

I realize this was a fairly extensive post about BarkBox products and a lot of people probably don't care that much about dog treats/toys, but I have found having a dog to be extremely fun and rewarding. I love spending part of my weekend finding new things for her to try and I am looking forward to the warmer weather so we can try out a dog beach and go on some adventures! I figure this is kind of training for my future children as I spend lots of time and money on this little cutie. 

Please bear with me as I attempt to resurrect my blog. I love having this as a creative outlet and almost passed out when I saw people were actually giving it a glance. Thanks!

This post was in no way sponsored by BarkBox. I'm pretty sure they don't even know I exist. Images were taken from there website, I do not own. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fantastic Mr. Fox Theme Dinner

My family has a tradition of doing a movie themed dinner every couple of months, and I had been waiting quite some time for the perfect weather to do Fantastic Mr. Fox as my film. 

For the activity, we made "bandit masks". In the movie, Mr. Fox and some of the other animals put on bandit "hats" resembling ski masks, but I thought these would be easier to decorate. 

Everyone got to choose from the assortment of colored paper and design in whatever style. We used rubber bands to make them wearable.

I wanted to fully capture the feeling of the movie, rather than pull out small details from it, since no one else had seen the film yet and would not understand references to the plot. The aspect of the movie I remembered most was it's artistic style and connection to nature. I played up the autumnal themes to decorate the room and table.

We used a cheap wreath around the bowl of apples to make a standout centerpiece and then filled in with other such autumn decorations, like candle holders and a Spode pumpkin teapot from The Christmas Tree Shop. On the small table in the back I placed a few real pumpkins as well as sunflowers and my stuffed fox from Anthropologie. The apples in the centerpiece were covered with gold star stickers to resemble the genetically modified ones in the movie made by one of the villains for his cider.

There is plenty of food in Fantastic Mr. Fox, as he steals chickens, apple cider, and other goods repeatedly from the nearby evil farmers/industrialists. Sticking with my Autumn theme, I decided to make a simple Sunday style dinner with roast chicken with herbs, root vegetables, kale salad, and dinner rolls, plus cinnamon apple pie for dessert.

For the roasted root vegetables, we used red potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, and parsnips. tossed in olive oil and herbs de provence. 

The Kale salad was purchased from our nearby grocery store but was delicious with shredded carrots and craisins. 

Our dinner was accompanied by juice boxes, which they drink at the end of the movie while raiding the grocery store. I think these foods provided a nice taste of Autumn and were a healthy way to have some "comfort food."

Everyone enjoyed the film and the dinner, despite this being one of the simpler theme dinners we have done. Sometimes you do not require a whole bunch of decorations to set the mood for a good movie. I'd love to do another theme dinner around Christmas so keep an eye out for that!

Thanks for reading :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Favorites!

As I feel like I somehow missed out on summer, I am determined to fully embrace and appreciate Autumn this year. That includes decorating the house, enjoying pumpkin everything, and attempting to get along with the cooler weather. There are, though, a few things that have been helping to make Fall better for me so far:

My first favorite is an essential to my wardrobe from September to May - denim jegging jeans from American Eagle. I have these in black, regular wash, and light wash. They are so perfect to wear with boots or flats and they can be worn casually or dressed up and worn to work! (I have a pretty casual workplace) I also have two pairs of the skinny jeans which have a bit more of a relaxed fit in the calf and ankle, but these are definitely my favorite. You can find them here.

Since I started working full time, I needed to set up my desk with all of my necessities. I know it is flu season, so when I went to Bath and Body Works I was on the hunt for a good hand sanitizer. I stumbled upon this Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin hand sanitizer. At first I doubted that it would smell good and not just like rubbing alcohol like other sanitizers, but I was pleasantly surprised. I am becoming somewhat addicted to this and even bought the small hand lotion in the same scent. 

I am one of those people who gets scared of horror movies and ghost stories very easily, but I still enjoy watching them from time to time. One of my favorite shows lately is American Horror Story and this season, Freak Show, seems extremely promising. I have only seen one episode so far but I was horrified, terrified, and left wanting more. As someone who is scared of clowns, I have a feeling I'll have to watch this only when it is light out, but sometimes you just need to watch something dark and twisted. (Followed shortly by my other new favorite show - Peppa Pig...)

I actually ordered this lip gloss from Sephora a month ago, but decided it was finally time to pull it out. I'm usually not as bold with lip color but it's something I'm trying to change. I absolutely loved this color for both Fall and Winter and since it is called "cranberry", I figured it would be perfect leading up to Thanksgiving. I wore it with a dark grey sweater to work the other day and thought it was the perfect pop of color. The lip gloss did rub off onto my coffee cup, but it didn't leave any weird, goopiness on my lips that sometimes happens with darker colors. 

Speaking of work, I have been on the train for 2 hours every day going to New York and home again, and it gets rather boring to just listen to music or stare off into space. Sometimes you just need a good book to get lost in and the Game of Thrones series is perfect for that. I am almost through A Clash of Kings and am having a hard time saving it just for the train. It might be difficult to get into at first because the characters and plot lines are numerous, but it is worth it I promise.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of all things Lush. I have a very hard time walking past the store without going in and I love finding new products to try. As I usually purchase bubble bars and bath bombs, I decided to switch it up this time and try the Honey Trap Lip Balm. It smells amazing of honey and vanilla and is a wonderful, smooth consistency. 

I have been burning candles like crazy lately, just to set the mood for a cozy autumn evening while I enjoy some Netflix and hot tea. Candles have gotten so expensive, but I do notice a quality difference when I spend less money on them. My go-to brand for candles of course is Yankee Candle and I love their seasonal candles for Fall, Christmas, and Summer. I bought the Autumn Leaves scent because it was one of the specially priced ones for the month, but there are a ton of other scents I would love to get my hands on. You can find their Fall candles here!

These are just a few of my Fall Favorites that I have been enjoying this season. I will be doing another one when my favorite time of year rolls around, Christmastime!!
Thanks for reading :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

Quick Life Update

I feel so bad for neglecting my blog lately, but September was such a whirlwind month! As I did just graduate in May, I've been exploring my options as far as what to do next with my life. I had been applying to jobs all summer, but hadn't heard back from anyone yet so I figured I would try out a different path by taking the LSAT and applying to law school. I signed up for an LSAT class that took place three times a week for three hours a class. The class ended last week and two days later I took the LSAT. I think it went pretty well but I won't be able to see my score for another 3 weeks so I'll just wait and see.

While all of this LSAT nonsense was going on I actually heard back about a job I applied to at Viacom, where I interned last Fall. After weeks of being unsure and three interviews, I actually got the job!! It is my first real, full-time job and I will be extremely busy but I am excited to be entering this new stage in my life.

My goldendoodle Minnie will be turning four months old this coming week and she has grown so much! She has become much more active and her appetite continues to increase as well. She went a few days ago for her first grooming session (Puppy Primping they call it) at Morris Animal Inn. It was a bath, blow dry, ear cleaning, and nail trimming for free (!!!) to get puppies used to going to the groomer.

I have some posts coming up for the blog so please be patient and stick with me. I so appreciate everyone who has taken the time to look at this blog and I didn't forget about it I swear! Now that it is Autumn I will be doing a couple recipes, maybe a craft, as well as some more photos and a family theme night. I love holidays so this is my favorite time of year. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Minnie the Goldendoodle

Just about 6 weeks ago I got an 8-week-old Goldendoodle puppy from a breeder. I named her Minnie, like the mouse, as I come from a family of Disney lovers. Although she won't be too 'mini' when she is fully grown, she is currently only 3 months old and still a lap dog. We chose to get a Goldendoodle as we wanted a dog that could play and be active but also could relax while my family watches a movie or eats dinner. Goldendoodles are also hypoallergenic and do not really shed, which is nice. 

Minnie is rambunctious and playful, loves shredding any paper substance she can, and goes absolutely crazy for treats and food. She also likes going for walks but gets hot very quickly since it is summer and she has a ton of fur. 

She has been to puppy daycare a few times at Morris Animal Inn and loves being able to play with other dogs. She is very friendly and wants to greet everyone she sees, but of course I have to warn them that she is teething at the moment. 

Minnie loves to be around people all the time and will take her nap next to wherever the action is happening. When she is very sleepy she loves to cuddle with me or my sister...until she wakes up and starts chomping on our ears. 

Minnie loves getting love and attention most of all (Maybe even more than food!) and really enjoyed this little photo shoot she had. Please head over to Renee's Flickr, link below, to check out more of the pictures and some of her other work.

Photo Credit goes to Renee Perret (Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/108649739@N03/ )

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pizza Making and Game Night

During the summer, when everyone has a bit more free time, my family enjoys having theme nights as our designated togetherness time. In the past, we have done movie theme nights that pair a film with a dinner, activity, and decorations (I will be posting one in October), as well as ethnic theme nights where we choose a country and then prepare a film and dinner from that culture. This time, though, we decided to forgo the movie for a more interactive experience - game night!

My mom and I decorated by using the games themselves, which helped to both set the theme and display the options for later in the evening. 

I also threw in a couple of my lego people just for fun because, why not? Maybe I'll plan a lego building party in the future...

We taped playing cards onto white plastic cups as decoration but also as a way of assigning a cup to each person. A deck of cards is now missing one of its royal families, but for a very good cause.

My mom made this cute display to combine the pizza aspect with the game night theme. Again she used Scrabble tiles and added some color with poker chips and a large candle. On the other side of the candle are the toppings for after the pizzas are made - garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano - in easy reach of the table. 

We went a little overboard at the grocery store when picking our toppings, but I wanted to make sure there were plenty of options. Our spread included sautéed asparagus, pepperoni, bell peppers, onions, heirloom tomatoes, mushrooms, black olives, zucchini, pesto, garlic, tomato sauce, and basil. 

For cheese we had shredded mozzarella, 4 cheese Italian blend, feta cheese, and fresh sliced mozzarella. I also love goat cheese on pizza but opted for feta this time. 

I attempted to fit almost every topping on my pizza, and it turned out delicious. 

In addition to playing Uno later that night, we mainly played Balderdash, a game where you are given a movie title or name or part of a law and must make up what you think sounds the most convincing as the real definition. Unfortunately, I did not even come close to winning as all of my answers were obviously mine. 

I would love to do this again some night, maybe with some friends and a different board game. It's a great way to plan activities for your guests while still having fun and not stressing out too much. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Down in Good Old New Orleans

"In the southland, there's a city, way down on the river..." (Princess and the Frog)

Last week I travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana with my family to celebrate my step-father's mother's 90th birthday. I have been to New Orleans a few times before for Christmas and Mardi Gras, but I have never gone in the summer. It gets unbearably hot and humid in July there and I was worried that the heat would affect me negatively, but we shifted some plans around and managed to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. Our very first day we took a mid-morning flight and landed around noon with the hour time difference. My step-father and step-sister picked my mom and I up from the airport and we immediately headed to the French Quarter.

The French Quarter is the most famous and recognizable area of New Orleans, with the famous St. Louis Cathedral standing in the center. This neighborhood of the city features Cafe du Monde, home of delicious coffee and beignets, art galleries, amazing restaurants, historic buildings, and unique shops. Here you can enjoy a bowl of gumbo while listening to live jazz music before shopping for a voodoo doll and some alligator jerky. 

One of the more unique things about New Orleans is the music that bounces down every alley and into every open window. There are constantly musicians on the sidewalk sharing their gift with the city and it is strange to not hear it while walking through the Quarter. 

On this trip, my sister and I decided we wanted to go on a ghost tour to learn more about the town's haunted history. Our tour covered both ghosts and vampires and our tour guide was friendly and appreciative of questions.

This particularly foreboding green home was used in the film Interview with a Vampire, starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Our guide told us there is a group of people residing in New Orleans who consider themselves to be vampires, drinking blood and dressing in vampiric garb. I had not previously associated vampires with New Orleans, but in addition to the ghosts and voodoo, it certainly makes for an eclectic and haunted city.