March 3, 2016

Why I'm Terrible at Cooking- My Cooking Fail Stories

  Cooking.  A skill most people use by the time they're 13 so they can make box mac and cheese or ramen at the very least. A skill that I do not excel at.  By not excel at, I mean fail.  The following stories serve as my evidence:

The Pop-Unders
  Popovers are one of my favorite foods.  When done correctly, the are buttery, light, and fluffy on the inside with a crisp outer shell.  Yeah, mine were nothing like that. Imagine hockey pucks filled with a very thin strip of condensed popover inside.  Mine were a little closer to that.  It begins with a girl, an iPad, and a cooking app with a recipe for "Easy Popovers." Needless to say,, I am the girl and that recipe was anything but easy.  Why?  I ended up making a very soupy batter, pouring it into a muffin tin and sticking it into the oven.  Now, you may be thinking that I might have executed the recipe wrong, which I probably did, but I left the popovers in the oven for the recommended amount of time, then when I saw that they failed to pop, I kept leaving them in for an additional five minutes, then fifteen minutes, then an additional half hour.  I have no idea what in the world was going through my mind when I thought that something could be baked in the oven, have already turned completely brown, then would still be able to pop up and be light and fluffy on the inside.  I really don't.

Are Mashed Potatoes Supposed to be Black?
  The answer to the question is very much know, and while I know that and knew that at the time, I still managed to make it happen.  That, my friends, is what we call true skill.  My mom was actually helping me with this.  She basically told me what to throw in the pot and how much time to leave it on the stove, but what I missed in her instruction was that mashed potatoes need to be actively stirred in order for them not to burn.  I basically sat at the kitchen table unaware my potatoes were burning.  Once I realized it, it left a mess of potatoes and a pot cleaning nightmare.

Mac and Sticky Cheese
"All you have to do is make the noodles and throw milk in the powder and you're done!"
  This is all that really had to happen when I was trying to make box mac and cheese, a skill most people know by the time they're 12. Yet, I sit here writing to you at 17 still wondering how in the world I managed to screw up box mac and cheese not once, but twice, and to this day have still not had any success. The first time I actually forgot I was making noodles.  The second my sauce ended up sticky and clumpy and weird.  Needless to say, I do not plan on venturing into the world of box mac and cheese again anytime soon.

Would You Like Some Cheese and Tortilla with that Grease?
  Think of how many kid friendly, quick and easy meals there are that require just a couple minutes in a skillet on the stove. Grilled cheese is one, another?  Quesadillas.  I love quesadillas, actually they're one of the few Mexican food dishes I like, and are supposed to be fairly easy to make.  I've seen my mom and friends of mine make them time and time again to the point where I have the procedure entirely memorized.  A little oil in the pan over medium heat, tortilla-cheese-tortilla, a few minutes one side, flip, and a few minutes on the other side.  While babysitting, I had to make lunch for a few kids so I decided what better to do than quesadillas?  I started making them and everything seemed to be going fine, until it came time to flip the first one.  Cheese spilled all over the pan and started burning to the edges.  After I somehow managed to flip it all the way over, I realized that the quesadilla was absolutely drenched in grease and oil.  Why?  Too much oil in the pan + the natural grease and oil from the cheese did not mix well together and I, of course, being the opposite of a master chef did not completely think through that little fact which is part of a thing called COMMON SENSE.

The Six Minute Popcorn
  The worst part about this story is that it doesn't even involve an oven or a stove, it involves a microwave.  Yes lovelies, I've managed to fail at microwaving. Now to be fair, I'm usually fine at microwave popcorn.  I've been know to microwave popcorn to perfection. This time, not so much.  I put the microwave in for my standard 3:45, however after feeling as if the popcorn wasn't "popped enough," I put it in for another, 15 seconds, then a minute, then another minute, until I realized the popcorn had been in the microwave for a full 6 minutes. To no surprise, I opened the bag to a clump of black, burned popcorn.  Before you ask, yes, I've learned my lesson.

The "Fresh Mango" Cupcakes
  Being the amazing baker {not} that I am, I of course figured that I could successfully alter a basic vanilla cupcake recipe to feed my mango loving self.  Yeah no.  Let's start with the fact that I couldn't find any cupcake wrappers anywhere in my house so I decided to do the "quick and easy" handmade parchment square wrappers that I found on Pinterest.  Already failing and the actually baking hasn't even begun. I cut up all the mango and threw it in with the rest of the batter, and when the cupcakes came out, they were... less than impressive.  Imagine a cornbread muffin with slimy fruit pieces sprinkled inside and that's about an accurate depiction of my "fresh mango" cupcakes. Upon seeing that the cupcakes had almost no mango flavor and were not at all what I expected, I decided to alter the buttercream frosting to include mango so it would get that flavor.  The addition of mango and the mango juice in the frosting just weighted it down and made it really soupy and unworkable, the only thing that kept it on the cupcakes were the tall cupcake wrappers.  Never again, never again.

Fondant Does Not Mean Flour
  Cake Boss.  Ace of Cakes.  Cupcake Wars. What do all these shows have in common?  Baked goods featuring intricate designs using fondant.  After finding what should've been an easy fondant recipe online, I, of course, wanted to give it a go.  I made about two dozen plain vanilla cupcakes which were a little dry, but eatable, and started on the fondant.  I had already started making the fondant before realizing that I didn't have enough powdered sugar to make it.  Instead of reducing the recipe or sticking it in the fridge to finish later, I decided that because powdered sugar and flour had approximately the same consistency, I could just substitute the flour for the rest of the powdered sugar {what was I thinking?}.  WRONG.  Flour is nothing like powdered sugar, not in chemical composition, not in how they react with other substances, and certainly not in taste {again, what was I thinking?}.  I continued the recipe, adding more and more flour to try to make the fondant more consistent, to the point where there was way more flour than powdered sugar.  Although I may have made some form of fondant, it was dry, cracking, and oh yeah, bitter because of the flour.  Next time, the intricate cake decorations get left to the experts.

  If I have learned anything from cooking over the years, it's that there's a reason why takeout exists, and I now have full appreciation for any restaurant that allows delivery.  What are your favorite cooking tips?  Any easy dishes you'd like to see me try and fail at?  Comment them below!

Love and Stay Preppy,

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March 1, 2016

Benefit, Blinc, Bare Minerals Covergirl, Smashbox, Tarte and more! Mascara Reviews and Comparison

  Please tell me I'm not the only one on what seems to be a never ending search for the perfect mascara. Trust me, by no means am I any sort of "makeup guru" or a self-proclaimed "makeup junkie," but when it comes to things that have to be near my eyes, I start caring.  Even if I'm not any sort of makeup guru, I do of course have my can't-live-withouts and a very specific list of things I look for when buying makeup. This being the case, I've tried more than my fair share of mascaras, and I'm here to share all my tried and trues, as well as all of my tried and hated with you!  The thing is that this isn't even the full list, that would be wayyy too long!  I think my most recent set of tries has a little something for everyone, from drugstore to high end and sensitive skin to harsh, I've covered my bases!

9. Covergirl Plumpify
      Full disclaimer: I've tried Covergirl mascara once before this, and wasn't a fan.  This mascara was sent to me through Influenster from Covergirl to try and review, so I figured I'd give it a shot.  Overall impression?  Still just not that impressed.  I think this is partially because I'm fairly picky when it comes to makeup and I didn't specifically pick it out.  Don't get me wrong, in a pinch, it'd probably be fine.  For me, my main problem with Covergirl in general is simply that the formulas they use are just too rough for my skin.  I've had issues in the past with irritation from using their products. When I first tried using Plumpify it kind of clumped my eyelashes together and also didn't really do anything to lift them.  For some reason, it looks really good in the photos but it's never looked like that in real life.  Also, the formula has a really weird smell.  The brush for this mascara is also fairly large which I'm really not a fan of. Again, most of my issues with this mascara simply lie in my own personal preferences, but then again, I didn't pick it out!  I'm sure there are other people it would be better for.  :)

8. Benefit They're Real! Mascara
      I've tried both the Benefit Bad Gal Lash and They're Real!  mascaras.  They both have decent reviews however they are very different. To be honest, Bad Gal wasn't terrible, but it wasn't a favorite.  The brush was way to big for my liking.  They're Real!  is a lot better in my opinion, in terms of brush and lengthening, but it still isn't a favorite of mine.  It's definitely not bad, but it probably won't be one I'll be purchasing again.

Left- Covergirl Plumpify | Right- Benefit They're Real!
8. Smashbox Full Exposure
      I don't have a photo example of this one, but to be honest it's at about the same level as They're Real!, not terrible, but not completely amazing either.  Not a huge fan of the brush, but the formula is okay!  I think the main drawback on this one for me was simply that it did irritate my eyes a little bit and made them kind of dry.  I have fairly sensitive skin and eyes though so if you're someone that doesn't, this one may be worth a shot!

6. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara
    I also don't have a photo of this one, but this is by far the best drugstore mascara I've tried yet.  The best part?  It's only $4.49!  I probably would have never picked this up out of my own interest, but I got it as part of a Christmas gift a few years ago and ended up going through the whole tube!  My main reason for placing it at 6 is simply because it did make my eyes dry and that was a little annoying.  Again, if you don't have sensitive eyes, I would highly recommend this one!

5. Bare Minerals Lash Domination
      If there's anything I like about this one, it's the packaging.  Okay, well that and the brush.  The formula is okay, it's not terrible, but it isn't the best either.  I like it because it really doesn't irritate sensitive skin or eyes, but it's real downfall is that after one coat your eyelashes start getting clumpy. It does do a really good job of curling eyelashes upwards though, which is why this mascara has stayed in my collection for so long! Full disclosure- I wrote this review based on the old Lash Domination, since then it has apparently been "revamped" and I have not tried that one, nor do I have any idea as to what it is like.

4. Tarte Lights Camera Lashes
      I feel like I have good and bad days with this mascara.  Sometimes it makes my eyelashes look amazing, and then again, sometimes they just start looking uneven and downright weird.  Overall, good formula and little to no irritation!  This one is overall really nice and just one above the Bare Minerals, due to it going on much more smoothly!

Left- Tarte Lights Camera Lashes | Right- Bare Minerals Lash Domination

4. Blinc
      Blinc has had some buzz in the makeup world for a little while now due to the fact that Blinc's mascara formula is so different that it actually forms tubes around your eyelashes instead of simply coating them.  Given that it's seriously a struggle for me to apply mascara sometimes, I really wouldn't be surprised if I have yet to apply this one correctly as it actually comes with written instructions as to how to properly apply it.  Regardless as to whether or not I've been applying it correctly, I can say that it does lift eyelashes better than I've seen any mascara do before.  It ties with Tarte's Lights Camera Lashes due to the fact that Blinc's formula doesn't allow for the feathery eyelash look, and almost freezes lashes in their place.

2. Pür Volume Vixen
      I like this.  I like this but I don't totally love this.  I was actually really tempted to tie this with Tarte and Blinc, if I'm being totally honest.  What pushed this just a little higher was Pür's formula in relation to eye sensitivity and clumpiness.  The Volume Vixen is just a little more consistent to Tarte and Blinc, which is also why I would choose it if I was in a hurry and didn't have time to spend messing around with my mascara.

1. Pür Big Look
      WINNER WINNER WINNER!  I love this.  Like a lot.  Lengthening, curling, lifting, the whole nine yards.  Little to no clumps and seriously so easy to apply.  The brush isn't my ideal brush, but honestly I still really love this mascara and the brush isn't terrible.

Left- Pür Big Look Mascara | Right- Pür Volume Vixen

  "Eva I get it there's a lot of mascaras and not all mascaras are created equal, but I don't want to spend $100 trying mascaras out!" It's okay, I don't either.  I actually tested most of my mascara by buying it on Black Friday at either Ulta or Sephora.  Black Friday is when Ulta and Sephora as well as other individual cosmetic brands and department stores roll out all of their holiday gift sets, most of which are really amazing deals.  Here's how I got some of the mascara featured in this post:

Covergirl Plumpify- Influenster Vox Box

Benefit Bad Gal- Travel size purchased from Sephora, $10

Benefit They're Real- Part of the Sephora Benefit Birthday Gift 2014

Smashbox- Included in the Smashbox Try it Kit featuring best sellers such as the Photo Finish Lid and Foundation Primers, Limitless Eyeliner, Lip Enhancing Gloss, and of course, the Full Exposure mascara featured in this post! $18

Blinc- Part of the Lash Discovery Duo which included the Blinc mascara and eyelash primer. $10

Tarte- Included in the Tarte Holidaze set which had a full size LipSurgence lip crème in legend, a full size light, camera, lashes precision longwear eyeliner, and a deluxe lights. camera, lashes 4-in-1 mascara.  $19

Pür- Both the Pür Volume Vixen and Big Look mascaras came in a travel size mascara trio including the two listed above and the Big Look Waterproof!  I got the trio from Ulta, however it appears as if it's unavailable online.

  Hopefully my tries, wins, and fails helped you just a little bit to narrow down the search for the one great mascara!  What did you think?  Should I do a waterproof edition?

  Also, the makeup bag in the photo is from Eva Kim Designs!  It's the newest product release and the print it's in is Rule Breakers!  :)

Love and Stay Preppy,

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