Sunday, December 28, 2014

A peek at my Frosty VoxBox from Influenster

 This winter season I was lucky enough to be chosen to be sent the Frosty VoxBox from Influenster! If you don't know what Influenster is, it's a review site/company that sends out boxes to members to try out different product brands. Each box contains different items and they all have special themes that you, as a member, can earn badges for which will allow you to be considered to be sent those items related to your interest. For example, for a makeup obsessed person like me, I have the Beauty Badge which qualifies me for consideration for makeup Influenster boxes. There's also fitness themed boxes, food themed, travel themed, and more! I would definitely check out Influenster if you're interested or post in the comments below and I can invite you (I think you need an invitation to join).
With that being said, let me share with you the products I received in my Frosty VoxBox!
One of the first things I noticed was the McCornick Gourmet bottle of thyme. I'm no professional chef but I do know that thyme is a super useful dried herb when it comes to cooking. I've used it to season lamb, mashed potatoes, and various other dishes so I was actually pretty excited to see this in my VoxBox. I recently used it for our family Christmas dinner to season our roasted vegetables and it was so good! McCormick is a brand I've grown up with and I think it's one of those "family brands" that have just been around for a while. The glass bottle packaging definitely makes this bottle look more classy and professional than their usual plastic ones. I definitely think I might pick up a few more herbs or dried seasonings from this "gourmet" line by McCormick.
There were two makeup products that came in my Frosty VoxBox. The Rimmel Scandal Eyes waterproof khol kajal liner and the NYC lipstick. Both I've actually been fortunate to have tried as I bought the pencil liner in the nude shade a while back. Everyone on Youtube was raving about how good it was and how it was a dupe for the Stila nude pencil that everyone always used on their waterliner so I thought I'd give it a try and I'm so glad I did. The liner is just the perfect amount of softness without being too soft like the Stila ones which sort of "mush" when you apply too much pressure and tend to smudge. The Rimmel liner is much better and it lasts all day with little to no smudging on my semi-oily eyelids. I don't own the liner in the black shade though so I'm really glad I got it! I'm a bit of an eyeliner junkie and I own more than enough black eyeliners but I always love to try new ones. If you want, I might post a review and comparison of all my favorite (and not so favorite) black pencil liners.
The NYC lipstick came in the shade Sugar Plum and is a beautiful mauve-y color. I previously received the same Expert Last Lip Color by NYC from another Influenster box but it was in a hot pink shade which was definitely a bit intimidating. This color, however, is much more wearable and perfect for the winter season. It's almost like a Kylie Jenner lip color which is that nude-mauve sort of lip color that everyone's been going crazy about. I wore this lip color the other day and found it a little drying but definitely lasting.

Another makeup/beauty related product I received was the Rimmel London makeup remover. I'm definitely happy that I got this in my box because I'm running low on my supply of the "free gift with purchase" makeup removers that I get from Clinque (my mom is a sucker for those deals and they almost always come with a travel size of their makeup remover which is SUPER good by the way and I would highly recommend). I have yet to try the makeup remover from Rimmel though but it's a good large sized bottle that I'm sure will last me for a good long while. I'll update you on my thoughts about the remover and how well it removes fake eyelashes and waterproof makeup!
No7 is a UK brand I believe but I've never actually tried anything from their line so I was a little excited to see a sample of their product in my box. It's a anti-aging serum so I might actually give it to my mom to try but at the same time, I feel like it's a bit hard to review a skincare product based on a small sample since I'm almost positive there is no topical treatment that will instantly cure your aging skin problems in a tiny sample packet. Nevertheless, still excited to see a brand I haven't had much exposure to in my box :)
If I haven't mentioned before, my sister is an absolute tea fanatic. She loves all things tea and tea parties and tea cakes and well anything tea related. She's even started collecting fancy vintage tea cups and been to some nice tea shops. Celestial Seasonings tea is a brand that we've both tried and actually their main company is located in Colorado where one of my cousins works. My cousin actually brought us back limited edition tea flavors that you can only get at the company in Colorado and the one she gave me for Christmas is called "Fast Lane" that apparently has a ton of caffeine for those sleepless college studying nights (not that I actually do that though.. haha). Anyways, just the name "Candy Cane Lane" got me excited and the fact that it's green tea is even better since I loveee green tea. I steeped the tea bag for about 2-3 minutes in a cup of hot water and let me tell you, it was SO good. The candy cane flavor isn't too strong or weird and it adds a nice burst of mint-iness.
Another exciting item I received was the Ecotools hairbrush. I haven't bought a new hair brush in a while so all of mine are getting pretty..well let's just say worn out so this was a long overdue and needed hair brush. The cool thing is that it's sort of rounded which is great for blow-drying hair and it has the nice rounded bristles at the top so it doesn't stab your scalp. I've been using it since I got it and it's great! I don't know if it's any less damaging then a normal hair brush but it doesn't seem to yank out my hairs as much as some of my other ones so maybe that counts haha. It does also seem to make my hair smoother after I shower and brush my hair.
Last but not least... CANDY! This was probably the thing that first caught my eye when I opened my VoxBox because I love anything sweet. I've never actually tried fruit vines though it's by the same brand that makes Red Vines. I opened these up the other day to share with my boyfriend and he loves anything strawberry flavored so he fell in love with them right away. They're gummy type of candies and are the perfect bite size. Plus they aren't too overly sweet and are low in fat if you're on a diet (though I suppose you shouldn't be eating too much candy anyways because of the sugar..). I think I like these better than the regular red vines and would recommend you try these out if you're into the firmer type of fruity gummy candies.

Anyways that's it for my Frosty VoxBox. I hope you guys enjoyed the mini review of everything and have a wonderful new year's eve/new year if I don't post anything before 2015~!

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. However, all opinions are my honest and true thoughts!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Manicure Monday: Alice in Wonderland Inspired Nail Art

Happy almost Christmas~! As much as I love the holiday season and painting my nails in the Christmas spirit, I decided to do something different with my sister's nails the other day and wanted to share it with you all for Manicure Monday. Because my sister loves Alice in Wonderland so much, we decided to go with that theme for her nails which constituted pretty bows, gold accented designs, and just basically an overall girly theme. We went blue as the main color because it's my sister's favorite color and also because Alice wears a blue and white dress throughout the movie so we thought it best appropriate. Part of our inspiration also came from another Alice in Wonderland nail design which you can easily find if you just Google "Alice in Wonderland nail art" so you can see where we got the color and some pattern designs from there.
I did all the nail art with either a toothpick or my white nail art deco nail polish which has a special thin tip made for drawing lines/for nail art (as the name so appropriately states) but overall the designs are all pretty simple and easy enough to do. I actually used the toothpick to trace out lines before filling them in with a normal nail polish (like in the case of the white diamond or the white clock on my sister's ring finger and thumb respectively) and for the lace design. Toothpicks are probably one of the best "at-home" nail tools you can use because they're so useful! I used them to pick up the nail gems in addition to using them to create the designs.
I purchased the gold chain from my local Daiso which is sort of like a Japanese dollar store except everything is usually $1.50 unless otherwise stated. It comes in a long chain which you can cut to your liking with scissors. I'm pretty sure you can find it on Ebay for less than a dollar which is also about the same price as the nail gems I used which came in a wheel with multiple colors similar to this. I also added on some cute stickers I got from China which you can also purchase on Ebay for super cheap :)
For the nail polishes, I used..
-Sky Blue: Revlon Core Nail Blue Lagoon
-Pastel Baby Blue: Barry M Gelly Nail Paint Huckleberry 19
-White: Orly Nail Polish White Tips #42001
-Black: Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Nail Color 370 Black Out
-White Nail Art: L.A. Colors Art Deco Nail Art 901 White
And as usual, I topped with Seche Vite top coat to seal everything in. I think it was especially important this time because I needed to make sure none of the 3-D things would fall off like the rose or the gold chain. 
Let me know what you think and if you have any nail design requests, just leave them in the comments below~! Hope you all have a wonderful holiday break and spend lots of time with your family! ^__^

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: Olay Professional Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment

Hello everyone! Today I'm going to review the Olay Professional Pro-X Even Skin Tone Spot Fading Treatment. I have been using this product for almost two years now and I can tell you right now, it is amazing. This is the drugstore product you've been waiting for that does two amazing things - it works AND it's reasonably priced. I know there are definitely some good products that work to fade dark spots but they cost a fortune and there are even more products that CLAIM to fade dark spots and cost an arm and a leg (okay a little exaggeration..) and don't work at all. So with that said, I hope I didn't get you too excited and let's get onto the review.

Price:$22.99 to 29.99 for 1.3 fluid ounces depending one where you get it and if it's on sale or not
What it claims to do: "The gentle yet powerful ProX Spot Fading Treatment reduces the look of dark spots and discolorations caused by years of sun damage, while hydrating skin for a brighter, more even tone"
  • Concentrated formula corrects and prevents hyper pigmentation while providing skin-nourishing hydration
  • Exfoliants polish away dullness, leaving you with a healthy-looking, even skin tone
  • Designed by leading dermatologists and Olay skin scientists to provide you with excellent results at home

You can buy it on Amazon or view it on the actual official Olay website (though it's more expensive so I would recommend Amazon as the cheapest place to buy it!). I've seen it at my local Target and CVS drugstores but they're about $30 also, so I would definitely go on Amazon unless you urgently need it.

Now that you know the basics, let me say that my mom was the one who actually recommended this to me. She actually suffers from a pretty decent amount of hyperpigmentation and discoloration due to sun damage, so if she says this works, like I believe her and you should too! The directions recommend you use the serum day and night for best results which is what I would recommend though I personally don't. I generally only use it at night but if I remember/have time, I'll do it in the morning too. I usually don't like to put it on in the morning though because I read somewhere that it takes time for serums to sink in so I like to make sure that I give the serum enough time to sink into my skin before putting on anything else (ie. sunscreen in the morning). My skin can scar pretty easily so when I pick at a pimple, I usually get a scar and even when I don't, my skin sometimes scars too. I also have a good amount of hyperpigmentation due to sun damage from swimming ever since I was young so those two reasons are why I started to use this spot fading treatment.

One of the best things about this serum is that it works so quickly. Here is my before and after 2 weeks picture of one spot that I had. Yes it's pretty unflattering, lighting is different (first in bathroom with artificial light, second using natural daytime light) and I felt pretty stupid taking the picture BUT I think it's a pretty good representation of how great this product is. It's amazing at fading dark spots and making sure that fresh wounds don't scar as badly. And after another 1-2 weeks, this scar was totally gone. (yes this product is that good!)

This product doesn't have any strong fragrance (I don't think it has any fragrance to it at all now that I think about it..) and doesn't feel sticky on your skin at all. It comes with a dropper which I like better than a pump so you can better control how much product you use at one time. I usually use about a fourth to half a pea size and it spreads really easily over my skin. Using this product has helped me fade my past and current acne scars and overall in general has helped make my skin look so much better. It really does make your skin look less dull and brightens it and unlike the Shiseido dark spot treatment that I reviewed before (which costs more than 4 times this product!), it actually works. I can't say enough about this except that if you're looking to fade dark spots, prevent new ones, and improve the overall quality of your skin, then you NEED to get this. I use this year round because it doesn't overhydrate my skin (though I do use other facial moisturizers along with it) and I generally like to use it as the last step of my nightly skin care routine.

Let me know if you have any other questions or if you have tried this treatment out and what you thought about it! Happy December~! (I just finished my exams so I'm pretty happy right now. I hope you all are too! ^__^)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tech Tips with Tammy: Having all words in Google Chrome in italics?

I don't know when this started, but when I came back home from college one break, I noticed Google Chrome on the desktop computer had everything in italics. Or well to be specific, it wasn't everything but it was anything that was in the standard Arial font would be italicized. This included Google searches and was extremely bothersome and annoying. I read countless forums and help sites with others having similar issues (using the search phrase: "why is everything in google chrome in italics" (yes that simple haha!) but nothing I tried seemed to be working.

These two pictures I got from this forum though the advice it gave didn't actually help me. Notice how in the bottom page, everything is italicized? That's what my screen looked like.
I tried to follow this blog post, but that didn't work for me. I changed all my fonts to Times New Roman and that did nothing. I did notice that if I put the font on Arial, the preview would show the writing in italicized Arial font which told me there was definitely just something wrong with my Arial font. Nevertheless, that may not be the case for you so I am linking you to it in case this solution is the one for your problem.

The next webpage I looked at is a Google forum which lead me to this Microsoft page. It directs you to the download page for the European Union Expansion Font Update. However, the first few times I installed the font update, it said it was successfully downloaded, but when I restarted my computer to "let the changes update", there was still no change and everything was still in italics! What I finally did that worked was... I went to Control Panel, searched "Fonts" in the search bar, clicked on the Fonts folder and went to the Arial font folder. Inside the folder, there are various different types of Arial fonts like Arial Black, Arial Narrow, etc. I deleted the "Arial Regular" and then reinstalled the font update. When I restarted my computer, everything was back to normal! (And yes Arial Regular will be back in the Font folder so it's not like I got rid of it or anything that would mess up the font coding on the computer).

I'm pretty sure this works if you're having trouble with any font so if it's not Arial but another font that's giving you trouble, I would try and follow these same steps but go to that font's folder instead of the Arial folder. Let me know if this worked for you or what you did to fix this problem if you had another solution :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

[Baking] Easy Chocolate Lava Cake Recipe

Baking has been something that I'm not particularly amazing at because half the time I don't have all the ingredients and I always end up substituting something in, but hey it always turns out edible albeit not exactly the most presentable piece. NEVERTHELESS, that doesn't stop me from scouting out the simplest recipes to use up leftover items in the pantry as I did recently with old leftover chocolate from who knows when. I decided to make chocolate lava cake because (1) my mother absolutely loves this and it's one of the few sweet things she'll eat and (2) the recipes online seemed easy enough. So with a few of my infamous adjustments, here's what I came with and I hope you try it out and enjoy ;)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1.75 ounces of chopped dark chocolate
  • 2.5 tablespoons butter + extra to butter the ramekins
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • a sprinkle of salt
  • a dash of vanilla extract (to your liking!)
I've never known what to do when a recipe calls for just egg whites or egg yolks but I've discovered leftover egg white is perfect for egg white omelets or macarons and leftover egg yolk works perfectly for either this lava cake recipe or creme brulee! Never let any bit of your egg go to waste! Also, I actually ended up not even having enough dark chocolate so I mixed in some Hershey's milk chocolate and I think it turned out just fine. Use any type of chocolate you like depending on your preference (or if you want to be "healthy", go with 70% or higher dark chocolate for those antioxidants~!). As a side note, the original recipe calls for twice as much of each ingredient because I halved the recipe to only make 2 ramekins.

I first mixed the egg yolk, egg, and sugar in a bowl until the mixture looked frothy and well, "well-mixed".

Then I melted the chocolate and butter and since I was too lazy to set up a double boiler, I just microwaved my chocolate at 30 second intervals (I only needed to do it 3 times before my chocolate was completely melted). Feel free to use whatever method you prefer though! After each microwaving session, I would take the bowl out and give it a quick stir to make sure none of the chocolate was getting too much heat and burning. I wouldn't exactly recommend microwaving if you're not going to be careful because you might end up overheating the chocolate and that just gets annoying to clean off (trust me, I've learned the hard way).
Once the chocolate was all the way melted, I threw it into the bowl and gave it a quick mix!
Once the chocolate was well mixed in, I added the cocoa powder, mixed, flour, mixed, and then salt and mixed. I had to use a spatula to make sure all the ingredients got mixed in (oh the struggles of a stand mixer).
After my dark chocolately goodness was all mixed together, I poured it (somewhat) evenly into the two ramekins I had buttered earlier,  covered them in saran wrap, and left them in the refrigerator for about 5-6 hours. You definitely don't need to leave it in that long but it doesn't hurt. I only waited because I prepared the mixture in the afternoon and wanted to bake it fresh for my parents for dinner. The shortest amount of time to refrigerate the batter is 30 minutes though so even if you're in a time crunch, you should have enough time to let these sit before baking! 

When it came time to bake, I removed the saran wrap and added hot water that went about halfway up my ramekins. I ended up baking them for about 17 minutes but I think a little less time would have been better because while one of them was perfect, the other one was a bit over done and didn't have a lot of the "lava" (aka oozing chocolate when you cut into it). It's hard to gauge when these are done though because you can't do the standard toothpick check. In my opinion though, under-baked is better than over (for lava cake at least) so go for less time at first if you're not sure.
I topped my cakes with strawberries and mint leaves from my backyard and sprinkled a bit of powder sugar and wahla~! Technically you should be able to take the cakes out but I suppose I didn't butter them well enough because they were pretty solidly stuck in the ramekins and I didn't want to ruin them so I just left them in the bowls.

Step-by-Step Instructions
  1. Butter (and I mean BUTTER!) 2 ramekins and set aside.
  2. Mix together egg yolk, egg, and sugar in a bowl until "light, foamy, and lemon colored."
  3. Melt chocolate and butter at 30-second intervals in the microwave or use a double boiler. If using the microwave, stir after each heating until completely smooth and melted. Do not overheat the chocolate!
  4. Incorporate melted chocolate into egg+sugar mixture.
  5. Add cocoa powder, flour, salt, and vanilla extract, mixing in between each addition.
  6. Pour batter into buttered ramekins (lightly tap on cutting board/smooth surface to remove any air bubbles)
  7. Refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes (any longer doesn't seem to negatively affect the batter though).
  8. A few minutes before you want to bake your lava cakes, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  9. Take the ramekins out of the refrigerator and place into an oven-safe dish. It must be deep enough to allow you to pour hot water to halfway up the ramekins.
  10. Bake for 15-18 minutes. 
  11. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before attempting to take them out of the ramekins. They may still be hot so be careful and wear oven mitts. Use a knife to cut around the ramekins and invert them to release the cakes. 
  12. Top with any toppings of your choice like fruit, powdered sugar, or more chocolate!

Recipe adapted from Chef John's Chocolate Lava Cake

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tech Tips with Tammy: Windows not recognizing your USB device/drive?

So this is going to be a totally different post compared to my usual beauty reviews and what not, but I felt the need to share this with anyone who might be feeling the same frustration I had this entire day regarding my laptop not recognizing my USB mouse cord when it had been for the last two years. I had unplugged my mouse to take my laptop to school and when I brought it back and plugged it in, my mouse just wouldn't move my cursor! My laptop recognized that the mouse was plugged in, but when I tried to move the mouse to control my cursor on my screen, nothing would happen. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you're having a similar or the same problem and I want to share how I managed to fix it because let me tell you, it was SUCH a relief after going through and trying countless methods that failed to fix the problem.

Since I'm sure not everyone has the exact same problem as me, I'm going to first outline and show a few screenshots of what it looked like when I tried to first figure out my mouses' problem.
The yellow sign with the exclamation point is what was next to my "OPTICAL MOUSE" icon (I took this screenshot after I fixed my mouse)

To make sure that my USB ports were actually working, I tried out multiple different USB devices other than my mouse which worked so I knew it wasn't my actual USB port. Then I tried using a different mouse and that still didn't work, so I went to my Control Panel and noticed a yellow warning/trouble sign next to my mouse icon (so yes my computer was recognizing that my mouse was plugged in which eliminated that as a potential problem--if that's your case, sorry my solution won't work for you!).
Upon right clicking on my mouse icon, I was given these options (yes this is for a printer but it was the same).
I clicked Troubleshoot and went through the series of steps that it prompted me to determine the problem. What my computer gave me was "Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware because a previous instance of the device driver is still in memory. (Code 38)". Being the total NOT tech-geek person that I am, I had no idea what that meant so of course, Google came to the rescue.

Searching up that exact problem gave me a number of forums with people having similar problems to myself but none of the given solutions seemed to work for me. I checked if my driver was out of date and that wasn't the problem because it was updated. Finally, I stumbled upon some forum (which I can't seem to find anymore and it's really frustrating me because it would be nice to show you guys that I'm not just making this up or something haha) where someone offered a link to the Microsoft support page that I'll link here.
The link will direct you to a page that looks like this.

If you read the page, it gives you a list of what the program does and you just click "run now". (I'm not sure if it's just me but the "run now" box looks a bit sketchy like one of those ads that you see and know to never click.. BUT I PROMISE YOU THIS ISN'T LIKE THAT haha!). I mean this is coming from the actual Microsoft support page so I'm pretty sure it's trustworthy. Anyways, I just followed the instructions on the program and it basically did everything for me and I think what it did was uninstall the driver and reinstall it and then I just had to restart my computer and.. *drumroll please* my mouse works!!! Wheeee, So yea it's pretty simple but I really just wanted to share that page/the program because I think it can fix a lot of problems you might be having with your drivers and devices and what not so hopefully, if you do have a problem and try this out, it works for you! Plus none of the forums I saw except that one that I can't find any more (Q.Q) linked me to this page so I'm not sure how many people know about it.

Let me know in the comments if this helps you out! :)