Saturday, November 4, 2017

Trying out Home Chef

I have been wanting to try one of these meal subscription services for a LONG time. I love to cook, but with multiple jobs and being a full time student I don't always have time to go grocery shopping. The unfortunate reality is that I will sometimes go a month or more without going to the grocery store to really stock up and this makes things difficult. Add to that the fact that at the end of the day my boyfriend and I often find ourselves in the predicament of "I don't know, what do you want for dinner?" and being relatively uninspired to cook.

Up until now I haven't really had one of these programs really jump out at me. I can be a notoriously picky eater (I'm working on it) and to be honest, I don't want to spend a fortune. So I got an offer for $30 off my first order from Home Chef (initial thought: "If I'm getting $30 off, how expensive is this?!") and started reading some reviews and perusing through their recipes.

Before I get into all the details, if you would also like $30 off please sign up here with my link! This helps support the blog and then I can bring you even more great content!

When you get started with Home Chef they ask you to select things you prefer to eat and things your prefer to avoid. It also asks about special dietary considerations. This is called your Taste Profile and you can go into your account settings and get even more in depth. It will also ask you how comfortable you feel with more advanced recipes which I think is great. While I've been cooking for many years, lots of people might be relatively new to cooking. We all have that one friend who makes a great bowl of cereal. For me what I was most excited about was the option to dislike mushrooms. I despise mushrooms with a passion so it was great to see it specifically singled out. It's the little things. Here's a look at my Taste Profile to give you an idea:

I just absolutely love how much you can customize it. I also like that you have a lot of options when it comes to how many meals you can order. You can choose between 2, 4 or 6 servings of anywhere from 2-8 meals. If your total is over $40 it ships free, which is another small thing that means a lot to me. Another feature that is great is you can plan multiple weeks worth of meals (when I placed my order it was up to 6 weeks, the current week through the first week of December) which is fantastic when you're super busy. They charge you each week for that weeks meals and send you a confirmation email. Once it ships it opens up a feature where you can rate and review your meals.

Now for the price break down:
The standard meals are $9.95 per serving
Occasionally premium meals are offered which are $14.95-19.95. I haven't come across these yet, but I'll post an update if I find any.
You can also add smoothies (the ingredients only, they do mention you need a blender) or seasonal fruit for $4.95. There is an option to always include these in your order.
There are also often 5 minute lunches, typically a salad with protein for $7.99.

Don't want anything this week? It's super easy to skip, it's located at the top of the dashboard where you would be picking your meals. No jumping through hoops which is great. All of your options just have to be in and saved by Friday 12:00pm CST.

The program automatically selects the meals it thinks you will like based on your preferences and those that have been rated as favorites by other users or their staff. You can then make changes and remove meals and add others as they strike your fancy. Here's what I chose for my first order:

Shrimp de Jonghe Penne with garlic butter bread crumbs, Chicken with Basil-Pecorino Cream Sauce and roasted red potatoes, and Steak with Horseradish-Herb Cream with potatoes pressé. My mouth is watering just writing that. (Pictures shown in order, from Home Chef website.)

My grand total for these fabulous meals? $29.70. Thanks to the $30 coupon I have 3 fabulous dinners to look forward to less than what it would cost to go out for drinks. You could say I'm pretty excited.

Now I just had to patiently wait for my package to arrive. You can choose which day of the week you want to receive your order and you don't need to be home for it. This is so important for me because I have a crazy schedule and I can't be worrying that my food is sitting on the porch spoiling.

Fast forward to Thursday night and me receiving my package.

The package was surprisingly compact which was great since a part of me was expecting a behemoth. It was packed so well and even my spinach was in perfect condition. Everything in the box can be recycled too which is a huge bonus. There were 3 big ice packs and insulation filled with recycled, compostable, biodegradable textile fibers that can be recycled too. The meats are separated into a heavy duty zip top bag and are under ice packs at the bottom so that they wouldn't leak and would remain coldest. The ingredients for each meal come in separate bags so you can pull out one meal at a time.

I also really love that you only get sent exactly what you need since I hate wasting food. For example, in the picture above you can see a small jar, that's exactly as much pesto as I need for the recipe. I love pesto, but I don't use it often enough. I've had jars go bad before I could finish them and I always feel bad throwing them away.

The instructions are clear and well written with a beautiful photo on one side (this is used to help with plating) and detailed instructions with photos for each step on the other. 

Since this was my first order they also included a 3 ring binder with some helpful terms and cooking tips included. The recipe cards come 3 hole punched so they can be put into the binder. I think this is great since I have a bookshelf for my recipe books and tend to lose cards. Each recipe can also be viewed online if you prefer and it will also show you other recipes you may like. This really helps to teach you more cooking techniques you may have never tried before.

So how did it all come out? 

Not pictured is the spinach... I had forgotten it in the fridge initially. 

The first night I made the Steak with Horseradish-Herb Cream since that was calling my name. It's listed as an intermediate level recipe, but I found it fairly straightforward and easy to prepare. The steaks were absolutely gorgeous cuts and came out perfectly. 
You can almost hear the sizzle
My boyfriend and I loved the horseradish herb cream. We prepared it with all of the horseradish that it came with. The instructions mention to do it to taste and we started with half and found we wanted a bit more zip. In the end it was the perfect complement to the steaks and I tried a bite of it with the potatoes and that was equally delicious. Do what suits your tastes though and taste things often while you cook. The spinach had a great flavor from being cooked in the same pan as the steaks. Overall we were incredibly pleased. 
We had a great time in the kitchen and sipped some wine while we cooked and then thoroughly enjoyed the meal. I feel confident I could replicate it again in the future. I could stand to improve my plating though.

Whatever reservations I had before I ordered were gone once we sat down to eat and we've already picked next week's meals. I also haven't stopped talking about it to anyone who will listen.  Consider this picky eater a meal delivery convert.

Get $30 off your first Home Chef order by clicking here

Another really cool feature on their site is the ability to purchase kitchenware you might not have. So say you're looking at a recipe and realize you need certain pots, pans or other equipment. You can click on their Marketplace which will show you anything you may need and links you to the Amazon listing. Now you don't need to run to the store :)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sample Sunday

Let's be honest, we all have a pile of samples somewhere. I know I do. Every online order comes with them, almost every shop or counter gives them out and sometimes we even get free gift bags chock full of them. A while back I sat down and sorted them out by type in an attempt to get myself to use them all up. To speed up that process and hopefully provide you with some information I'm starting this new series: Sample Sunday. Each week I'll be trying out a selection of samples and giving you my first impressions and thoughts. I'm going to try to do a few different types of samples each time to try to give you good variety.

Here we go!

This week's samples:

Fragrance: Marc Jacobs Daisy

I don't know how I've never tried this before! It's such a popular fragrance and I know quite a few people who love it. It's described as "Daisy is a sparkling floral bouquet, spirited and fresh, wrapped in comfort and warmth." It's a fruity floral with notes of Strawberry, Violet Leaves, Jasmine, and White Woods.
I didn't find it overly floral, but softly so. Sometimes florals can be a bit overpowering and this doesn't, it strikes a nice balance. I don't get the note of strawberry particularly, but it could be there in a very subtle way. It's a very clean smelling fragrance and great for every day.

Body Product: I AM Organic Body Oil

So a little bit of background. I was lucky enough to be able attend the Indie Beauty Expo in New York this year and met a TON of amazing brands. Some of those of course stood out to me. I AM Organic was one of the first booths I saw when I walked in and the ladies there were so incredible. The ladies are so kind and are passionate about what they do and the products they offer. I was immediately obsessed. I brought home a sample of their Restored (Lavender and Rosemary) Body Scrub which my mother very quickly kept for herself. I also got this sample of their Energy (Citrus) Body Oil and I LOVE IT! It smells absolutely delicious and makes my skin feel incredible. It hydrates and smooths my skin and I highly recommend it.

Skin Care: Bliss That's Incredi-Peel

I got a few of these to try out and when I feel like my skin is looking a little dull I've used them. According to Bliss these easy to use Peel Pads are described as: "Glycolic acid and vitamin E to target fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and imperfections.Retexturizes and soothes skin in just one step. Time-release technology makes it gentle enough for all skin type." They make my skin a teeny bit pink and tingly at first, but then the next morning it looks good. I think I prefer going for a professional peel versus using these every day which I think would make me too sensitive (I tried using them two days in a row once and I was a little itchy and dry.)

Makeup: Givenchy Rouge Interdit Satin Lipstick in 23 Fuschia-In-The-Know 

I had popped into Sephora to grab something for my mom and noticed this little beauty in the rewards case. Normally I'm disappointed in the offerings (and to be honest I think it's crazy that $100 of points gets you the equivalent of a free sample you could just ask for, but that's for another post) but this caught my eye. I've been wanting to try Givenchy lipsticks for a while (that packaging is seriously sleek) and I had heard good things about the formula. This baby is so rich and pigmented and it goes on soooo smoothly. I'm in love. The color pulls almost slightly reddish and not just straight up hot pink. It's seriously gorgeous and I highly recommend it. It is very creamy so it will move around if you aren't careful. You're going to want to wear a liner with this for sure, maybe even blot it to be safe. It's a dream to wear though, so comfortable and creamy.

 Don't mind the picture with my glasses! I've been having some eye issues lately so I can't wear my contacts :( Hoping to be back in them soon though since this prescription is old!

Let me know what you think of this week's lineup and what products you'd like to see in the future!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Healthy Protein Packed Chocolate Banana Pancakes

Yes, you read that title right. Healthy Chocolate Banana pancakes that also pack a protein punch. Big shoutout to my mom for giving me the base recipe (I've added a few little tweaks.)

Protein Pancakes
Makes ~ 4 pancakes (2 servings of 2 each)

What you'll need:

For the batter:
2 eggs
2 scoops of your favorite protein powder (I used chocolate for this, but if you want a plain pancake use vanilla flavored. You can also experiment with other flavored protein powders.)
1 ripe banana
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
and if you want REALLY chocolatey pancakes add 1/2-1 teaspoons of cocoa powder.

For cooking the pancakes:
Cooking spray, coconut oil or butter. I personally prefer butter as a small but delicious splurge.

I personally only added the vanilla and cinnamon, but if a chocolate craving really kicks in I may add the cocoa powder.

In a bowl mash the banana until most lumps are gone and then add the 2 eggs and vanilla if you're using it. Mix just until combined. Next add protein powder, baking powder and any dry spices. Mix until batter comes together.

Heat a frying pan over medium-low to medium heat. Add your cooking fat of choice and add about 1/4 of the batter. I noticed these brown a little faster than regular pancakes and are usually ready to flip much sooner, so keep an eye on them.

Et voila! Chocolate Banana pancakes that are pretty healthy.
Per serving? 256 calories for me, might vary slightly depending on your choice of fat as well as the protein powder itself. I had a cup of coffee with milk and sugar as well as some turkey bacon and a little (imitation, hey no judgement) maple syrup and still clocked in around 450 calories which is great in my book. These also take almost no time to make which is a real win in my book. I hope you enjoy them!

Leave comments below for other recipes you'd like. I may start doing some cooking videos on YouTube soon.

- Steph

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

MAC on Hautelook

I love MAC and I've never seen it on HauteLook before so this is really exciting.

There's loads of gorgeous lip colors on there for really great prices.

Use my link for a special offer:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Get 3 Full Size Kat Von D Lipsticks!

Big thank you to Isabella from Musings of a Muse for giving us all a heads up on this. If you spend $75 on Kat Von D's site you can get 3 free Full Sized lipsticks and free shipping! Just use code: STUDDEDKISS

Original post:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MAC is finally at Ulta!

If you're like me and keep your finger on the pulse of the beauty world you heard the whisperings of MAC coming to Ulta in the last couple months. I'm so excited to share with you guys that it finally happened! Currently it's available online only, but will be available in select stores starting next month. A list of the stores that will be carrying it is up already, but they're adding new stores all the time. So far none near me, but I'm excited to be able to earn my Ultimate Rewards while buying MAC. They seem to have a really great selection of the products and I'm very excited!

To see a list of locations and the dates they will be open check out this link:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 11

So today's deals include a product I use, one I know a little about and one I've never heard anything about. I've tried Benefit's They're Real Tinted Lash Primer a few times in the past. I own a travel size of it and I've had mixed results. Sometimes it makes my lashes look lush, full and long and then sometimes I get a bit clumpy. I'm going to chalk it up to user error and still recommend it. You can grab it today for only $12 plus there's a Gift with Purchase: FREE deluxe Watt's Up! Highlighter with any $45 Benefit purchase and FREE Hoola Bag with any $45 Benefit purchase. Now I've embraced my paleness wholeheartedly, but I have some friends who use St Tropez products with great results. You can grab the Gradual Tan Classic Everyday Body Lotion for just $12.50 and get ready for Spring outfits (if we ever get the weather to match!) Last up is a Environmental Shield Essential-C Cleanser I know nothing about unfortunately so I can't make a recommendation on it, but you can pick it up for $19 today. You can also get a Gift with Purchase: FREE deluxe Daily Detox Essentials Gift with any $75 Murad purchase.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 10

I own one Laura Gellar baked blush and it's actually pretty nice, it's also pretty pigmented. You can snap up the Laura Gellar Baked Blush n Brighten for just $14 today. I haven't tried any of the products from It Cosmetics, but this palette looks SO pretty and for just $21 it's a great deal. It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Vol 1 Matte Luxe Transforming Eyeshadow Palette
I've never tried anything from Dr. Brandt and I actually haven't heard anything about the Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer, but it seems to have gotten great reviews. It's a little on the pricey side but at $22.50 it could be worth trying.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 9

I haven't tried anything from Tarte's new Maneater line, but who doesn't love a black liner? I love self sharpening too because I can toss them in my purse and use them whenever. Today you can get the Maneater Self Sharpening Liner for $10. And bonus, it's waterproof. Hello summer. Next up is the Stila Huge Extreme Lash Mascara. I own this and to be honest I've only used it a few times. I think I just wasn't super impressed and own others I like better. However it does get pretty good reviews and for less than $12 is worth a shot. You'll also get a free Gift with Purchase of a mini with any $35 Stila purchase so you could always try it by getting something else from Stila. Lastly is the Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash. This is another product I've never tried, but it has a lot of scents added which wouldn't necessarily bother me, but some people are sensitive so I figured I'd mention it. Oddly enough the Gift with Purchase (FREE deluxe Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask with any $45 Origins purchase) sounds more like something I'd be likely to purchase than the cleanser.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 8

I recently bought some of the It Brushes for Ulta and I have been loving them, they've made such a difference in my routine. Today you can get the Airbrush Smoothing Foundation Brush #102 half price. And the adorable Gift with Purchase is its mini version perfect for travel or touchup (FREE mini Airbrush Foundation Brush 101 with any $35 IT Brushes for ULTA purchase.) The next deal is a from a brand I've never heard of: Organic to Green. They're offering up a Mini Coco Oil Travel Kit with a selection of coconut oil infusions for different skin types. Lastly is another peel pad, the Dermadoctor Kakadu C Intensive Vitamin C Peel Pad with Ferulic Acid & Vitamin E. This one is meant for daily use and is a 30 day supply and the gift with purchase is unfortunately and strangely just a single additional pad.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 8

I've looked at some of the Becca primers in the past and I REALLY considered trying this Becca Backlight Priming Filter. It's supposed to help blur imperfections while giving that glowing from within look. I'm holding off for now only because I have SO much primer right now and I want to try to use through some of them first, it does look awesome though. There is also a Gift with Purchase: FREE deluxe First Light Priming Filter with any $30 Becca purchase. Next are the Dermalogica Skin Kits in Normal/Oily or Normal/Dry. Again I'm not really a big fan of over the counter skincare so I can't say much about these. I've never used Dermalogica and so I can't have an opinion really. They also have a Gift with Purchase: FREE 3-pc Fresh and Flawless Set with $60 Dermalogica purchase. 

Last up is a Platinum Perk so you must be a Platinum member (or find a friend who is) to purchase it. It's the Urban Decay Afterglow Blush. I'm a huge fan of Urban Decay, but I haven't tried these yet. I have a few friends who love these though and UD never disappoints me. Also they have 2 Gifts with Purchase: FREE Vice Lipstick 24 Pod with any $40 Urban Decay purchase and a FREE deluxe Perversion Mascara with any $40 Urban Decay purchase.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 7


Finally a day where I've actually tried and love (pretty much) everything! I've owned the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara a few times in the past and it's a pretty good mascara, not my favorite, but definitely still good. At just $10 today you can't beat it. Next up is a personal favorite. I tried these during last year's 21 Days of Beauty Steals and fell in love. At the regular price they're a little expensive in my opinion, but during the sale they're barely more expensive than a drugstore alternative. I love the Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleansing Cloths. They get all my makeup off fairly gently, but effectively. Some makeup removers irritate my eyes, but these cloths feel fine. I wish there wasn't a limit of 2 per steal or I'd get more. Last up is a Benefit Brow Service
Free brow wax with any $50 Benefit purchase which is a
$21 Value. If you know me, you know that the Benefit Brow Bar is the only place I do my brows. So if you need to stock up on some Benefit today's the day to do it!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 6

Today is another day of deals where unfortunately I haven't tried any of these before. Brows are still having moment so I'm always open to trying a new pencil and I've heard good things about It Cosmetics in general. Today you can grab their Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil for just $12. They also have a Gift with Purchase: FREE mini Confidence in a Cream with any $35 IT Cosmetics purchase. Next is the Exuviance Performance Peel AP25, I'll be honest I've seen this brand around, but don't know anything about them. I've tried a few at home peel products and while they never replicate a true chemical peel, they can be a good way to keep up at home when used correctly. This one says to use twice a week for 6 weeks and that it can "Refine pore size and smooth texture, visibly diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve clarity and brightness, brighten and even skin tone, provide an all-over healthy glow, suppleness and smoothness to skin." If it's something you want to try this is a good chance since it's normally almost $80. There's also a Gift with Purchase: FREE Age Reverse Hand Rejuvenator with any Exuviance purchase. Last up is the Lancome Pure  Empreinte Masque Purifying Mineral Mask which is a Kaolin based clay mask for drawing out impurities and refining pores. I love masks so this is a deal I would take advantage of personally. This too has a Gift with Purchase: Receive a deluxe sample of Cils Booster XL Enhancing Mascara Base with any $30 online Lancome purchase.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 5

Today is one of those days where I'm going to have to control myself. I swatched some of the Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliners in store and they are like absolute butter. They're so smooth and pigmented and come in some really gorgeous colors. At $11 each they're a steal! As far as the Clarisonic I don't have the Mia 2 (I have the Pro model), but I can highly recommend the Mia 2 if you just want a more basic Clarisonic for just your face. It has 2 speed settings and a 2 year warranty. I've never tried Eyeko so I can't make a real recommendation here, but I have heard great things and at this price they're worth a go.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 4

Happy hump-day and another day of deals at Ulta. I've tried a few of the Buxom Full-On Lip Creams and I liked them though some are slightly sticky, but they're a great deal at $10. There is also a Gift with Purchase for Buxom (FREE Pink Cosmetic Bag with any $30 Buxom purchase (offer valid 3/19/17-4/8/17 or while supplies last.)) I am COMPLETELY against Proactiv for various reasons (if you guys want I'll write a separate post about that), but essentially it's horrible for your skin so I'd recommend skipping it. I haven't tried the Laura Geller Filter Finish Setting Powder, but after seeing it I am curious about it. There is also a Gift with Purchase for Laura Geller: FREE full-size Inkcredible Waterproof Gel Eyeliner in Blackbird with any $35 Laura Geller purchase (offer valid 3/19/17-4/8/17 or while supplies last)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 3

Another day, another set of deals.

Again I haven't tried any of these so I can't really have an opinion. I do however love spray primers and would be willing to try out these BareMinerals ones. The Butter London Glazen Eye Glosses remind me of the ones MAC came out with a few years ago, but this is a much lower price point. So if you've wanted to try the wet look, this would be a great way to test it out. I've also not tried the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Moisturizer, but as I've mentioned before I'm picky about what I use for skincare.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 2

I'll be honest I haven't tried a single one of today's Ulta Beauty Steals so I can't in good faith make recommendations. So today I'm just the messenger.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ulta Beauty Steals Spring 2017 Day 1

I have one of the Too Faced Love Flush Blushes and it's nice, but I don't often find myself reaching for it. (Ulta also has a Too Faced Gift with Purchase: FREE Peanut Butter and Honey Cosmetic Bag and Full Size Honey Infused Lip Gloss with any $35 Too Faced purchase)

 I haven't tried any of the Philosophy skin care, but I'm also very picky about what I use. I do love their body washes. You can get their Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash here. They also have 2 gifts with purchase for Philosophy: FREE packette Renewed Hope with any Philosophy purchase & FREE 6-pc Gift with any $50 Philosophy purchase

Today's Platinum Perk is It Brushes Complexion Perfection Essentials 3 Pc Deluxe Brush Set which includes the Essential Powder Brush, Essential Foundation Brush, and Essential Concealer Brush. They too have a Gift with Purchase: FREE mini Airbrush Foundation Brush 101 with any $35 IT Brushes for ULTA purchase. I recently purchased a bunch of brushes from It at Ulta and I love them. They're really great brushes without breaking the bank and I highly recommend them.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring 2017 Ulta 21 Days of Beauty  Email My Stats

The Ulta 21 Days of Beauty Steals has consistently been one of my favorite shopping events. They always have really incredible deals on products I actually want to buy. Plus I love that there are always extra deals for Platinum members. I'm posting the calendar of deals below, but I'm going to try to post the deals daily along with the Platinum Perks. Remember that if you're Platinum and purchase any deal, your order ships free!

I like that Ulta has also included some of their own line in the deals and that those are running for week long intervals.

 Which steals are you most looking forward to?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Urban Decay is on HauteLook

I'm a massive Urban Decay junkie so you can only imagine how excited I was when I got a notification this morning that it was up on HauteLook. They've got primer potion, tons of glosses and loads of lipsticks as well as other awesome products at a fraction of the original price. This event will sell out quickly, so head over there and snag some great deals!

Monday, March 6, 2017

ModCloth Stylish Surprise is Back (Spring 2017)

You guys already know how much I LOVE stylish surprise from ModCloth. You can get absolutely amazing pieces at phenomenal prices. On three occasions in the past I've received dresses that were worth $250 for only $20! These deals always sell out quickly so be sure to head over there now and snap up some great buys.

Use this link to get $20 off $50!

This is an affiliate link which helps support the blog so it's much appreciated if you use it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

L'Oréal EverPure Moisture Review

I was sent the new L'Oréal EverPure Moisture line free from influenster to review.

I'll be completely honest when I say I didn't expect much out of this line. I tend to use very pricey salon brands to protect my hair. Since my hair is dyed red and purple it tends to leech color easily and so I'm always wary. I can honestly say I was very impressed. My hair felt very hydrated and soft and was very manageable after using these. However I was most impressed with the fact that the shampoo didn't strip color from my hair. No matter what brand I use I always have a little bit of color run off, but with this it was very minimal.