Happy Friday!

I hope you have all had a great week.

It’s time for this month’s Degustabox review and unboxing.  If you are new here, Degustabox is a monthly subscription plan which contains a bunch of surprise food products. The items are selected from name brands, will contain fun flavors, and give you a new option to think about the next time you’re looking for a break in your eating routine.

DSC_0045POPCORNERS Spicy Queso $3.29 for 7oz Bag

“We made this tex-mex classic ONE BETTER with a chef-inspired medley of red and black peppercorns. The red ones are especially rare and bring intense heat to every bit.”

I absolutely love these! I have tried Popcorners before, the kettle corn ones to be exact and they were good, but I wasn’t crazy about them, these are delicious. I love the light crisp texture of the chips and the cheesy warmth from the spice.”

DSC_0062UNIQUE Sourdough Craft Beer Pretzel Rings $3.29

“A sourdough pretzel made with Unique’s high quality. We added real malted barley and a dash of hops as a tip-of-the-hat to all the brewmasters out there, inventing the original Craft Beer Pretzel.”

What can I say, these are just really good pretzels. I didn’t get very many of them because I decided to share them.

DSC_0051JUST ADD Classic Guacamole Quick Mix $1.19

“Just Add Classic Guacamole Quick Mix makes it easy to get the perfect guacamole, every time- in just minutes. Just mix with 2 avocados, and you’re ready to party”. 

I have mixed feelings about this, I really like the idea, but the garlic flavor is really strong. I think in future I would use one packet for four avocados instead of two avocados.

DSC_0057EMMY’S ORGANICS Vanilla Bean Coconut Cookies $2.49

Simple, not basic. The Combination of smooth vanilla and freshly ground almonds are a perfect pair for your daily hot beverage. 

These are so good! I  both going to be looking out for them in the store and trying to make something like them at home.

DSC_0053RAINDROPS Candy Taco $4.99

This is sure to be a favorite at your next party or as a snack to share with loved ones. Made from Raindrops delicious tasting candies, this is a one-of-a-kind taco!

I have no idea! This is definitely the weirdest thing I have gotten in a Degustabox.

I did get a good laugh out of it, but the candy in the taco was very basic gummy candy, which isn’t my thing anyway.

DSC_0068MANITOU TRADING COMPANY Truffle, Parmesan & Black Garlic Seasoning $4.49

“Our Truffle, Parmesan & Black Garlic Seasoning combines umami-rich flavors of truffles, black garlic and Parmesan cheese in a convenient, easy-to-use powder. Sprinkle over popcorn. Toss with freshly fried or roasted potatoes. Use to crust meat or seafood before grilling. Add richness to risotto or pasta dishes”. 

This sounds like a really interesting flavor, I really want to try this on popcorn, it sounds really delicious to me.

DSC_0071MANITOU TRADING COMPANY Piri Piri Sauce $2.99

“Piri Piri, Swahili for “pepper pepper” speaks to this Portuguese classic’s African influence. Our Piri Piri Sauce starter makes a zesty marinade for grilled or baked poultry.”

I’m super curious to use this, I have never heard of it before and it sounds really good. I guess I need to get cooking!

DSC_0047BEANSMASH! Bean Dip $1.29 

“BeanSmash! Is a warm and tasty protein-packed bean dip or snack that is available in four great flavors. Each cup contains at least 10 grams of protein, is gluten-free, vegetarian and non-GMO. It is convenient and easy to prepare. Just add water”

Not a big bean fan at the best of time, but I will definitely be giving these a try at some point.

DSC_0067PBFIT Peanut Butter Powder $5.99 for 8oz

“PBfit is everything you love about peanut butter, made better. Whole-roasted peanut pressed to perfection, means PBfit contains up to 90% less fat than traditional peanut butter, and about 1/3 the calories.”

I find this idea really cool! I don’t eat peanut butter regularly but I tried this on its own as peanut butter and it’s surprisingly good! I’m very curious to see how it is in a smoothie or maybe use it in some baking.

Overall it was a good box this month, there are a few products that I may pass along to someone who will like them better than I would.

You can get 50% off your first Degustabox here.

            Last Post             January Degustabox            December Degustabox  

This box was sent to me for review, all thoughts are as always, my own.

 

This post contains affiliate links.

 

It feels like forever since I have done any type of beauty-related post, I guess in reality it has only been a few months but I have really missed it.

So to start off the first beauty post of the year here is my current go-to makeup routine!

dsc_0030I start off using the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Primer all over my face and following that with the Benefit PoreFessional primer on my T-zone, where I have bigger pores and the makeup tends to wear way first.dsc_0036dsc_0041

For foundation, I have been using the Maybelline Super Stay Full Coverage Foundation in Fair Porcelain 102. It is quite a high coverage formula so one or two pumps is all I need. I have actually started using a foundation brush when I want a lighter coverage and then going over it with a beauty blender to even everything out.

I’m still using my trusty Physicians Formula RX concealer, it really is the best, it covers absolutely everything but still looks natural on the skin. I have recently started using the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind concealer again as well, I use it on my forehead, chin and under my eyes. It adds a soft highlight and a little extra coverage. Depending on how my skin is acting I will often skip the RX and go right for the age rewind.

Then I will set it all with the good old Coty Airspun powder, I use the translucent.

dsc_0044For contour I use the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer in Light Bronze, I believe it is the lightest shade they offer. I use this around my forehead, under my cheekbones, and under my chin. For blush, I’ve been using the Too Faced Papa Don’t Peach blush, on my cheekbones, carrying it up to my forehead lightly. depending on my mood I will occasional boop a little on my nose a light dusting on the apples of my cheeks, this is just so that I look less ghostly.

dsc_0084For eyes my go to has been the Tarte Rainforest Of The Sea Sizzle palette, I did a full review of the Sizzle Palette (here). This so goes for everyday makeup as it has all the shadows you could want, but it can easily transition to a more glam look. I have been mainly using the shades Playa, Paddleboard, Off Duty and Kite Surf.dsc_0051

 

My all-time favorite eyeliner is the Kat Von D Tatto liner! I have been using Mad Max Brown. I just do a thin line along my lashes and a tiny little wing. I have recently returned to one of my old favorite mascaras, the Maybelline Lash Sensational.

dsc_0046The last two steps are highlight and lips!

For highlight, I have been using the Revolution Melted highlighter duo. I use the pink shade on my cheeks and lightly on my forehead. Then The lighter shade on my brow bones, cheekbones, nose and sometimes on my chin.dsc_0088

My favorite lip combo at the moment is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Matte Lipstick in Kiss and the Too Faced Melted Latex Lipgloss in Hopeless Romantic over top of it.dsc_0270

I would usually finish off with a setting spray, but I don’t currently have one. I finally ordered the Morphe setting spray and it should be here by the end of the week.

There you have it!

What are some of your go-to products?

Hedgehogs are still a fairly uncommon pet, but they are quickly growing in popularity here in Maine since they were taken off the restricted species list in 2017 and are now legal to own without a special permit. I have had my little hedgie Bridget since December of 2017.

While I absolutely love her, there are a few things that I wish I had known before getting her, which would have made my first couple of months with her easier and made both hedgehog and owner a whole lot happier.

So here are 5 Things I wish I knew before getting a Hedgehog!

 

dsc_03191. Bonding Time 

Hedgies are by nature quite solitary, so they require lots of attention to get them to open up and be social and friendly, I did kind of know this but I didn’t realize how important it was.

The fact is you should ideally spend a half hour to an hour with them every day. Yes, I said every day. I think most people would agree with me when I say that is a lot of time to commit to for a pet. If you don’t have time for them every day or you go away for a week, then you come back to a grumpy ball of quills that you have to completely retrain to like you.

2. Bathroom Habits

This one of the biggest things that I really wish someone had told me.

So, hedgehogs require a wheel for exercise, 12 inches or bigger. My girl runs from about 9:30pm at night to around 6:00am, every night. The thing I didn’t know is that hedgehogs don’t stop running to relieve themselves. In fact, they only do it do it while running. I have tried breaking her of this every way that I could think of and nothing worked. So I have accepted my fate and clean out a poopy wheel every couple of days.

dsc_02993.Smell 

This ties in with number 2 and has been a huge problem up until recently. I had also been told that hedgies hardly smell at all. Whenever I mentioned this to someone they seemed to think I was exaggerating, I mean how could something so little and cute possible smell that bad.

As they are meat eaters they smell like, well, a dog, cat or an actual full sized hog. I originally had Bridget’s cage in my bedroom but after about a month I couldn’t take it anymore and she moved into the office. Then the rest of my family couldn’t stand it, as the stench would waft through the house as we sat watching a movie, so she moved to the basement.

After a while I decided that there must be something that can be done about this, I mean nobody would own one if this was a normal thing. For the first six months or so I had been feeding her the food that the breeder had recommended, but after some research, we discovered that any kind of fish in their diet has a huge effect on how they smell, so we switched her over the duck based food instead of a fish based one and now she hardly smells at all! So there is always a silver lining.

4. Broken Nails 

One morning when Bridget was still living in my bedroom, I woke up and looked over at her pen to a scene straight from a horror movie. Her wheel was covered in blood, the roof of her hut was covered, there was blood splattered all over the sides of her pen and on the wall behind the pen. I stared blankly at it for a minute, whatever had happened it wasn’t something my sleepy brain wanted to deal with.

Once I comprehended what I was looking at I popped up and immediately checked to see if Bridget was okay. I got her out and checked her over, despite being covered in blood, I couldn’t see anything wrong with her. I washed the blood off and the only thing I could find was that one of her toenails was quite a bit shorter than the rest.

Yes, this whole violent looking scene was the result of her breaking a toenail and continuing to run in her wheel all night long, which in turn sprinkled blood all over the interior of her pen. The bleeding is caused by the nail snapping off and exposing the thin veins that run through it.

dsc_03065. Quilling

This was something I was aware of, and I was actually given some paperwork about it by the breeder, but I didn’t realize how much it would affect her.

Quilling is a process that takes place between six weeks and four months old when a baby hedgehog starts to lose their baby quills and grow their adult quills. Baby quills are much smaller and thinner than adult quills. Imagine a baby teething, the teeth must come in slowly working their way up and breaking through the skin, it’s basically the same for a hedgie. A quill that has trouble coming out is similar to an ingrown hair, it will be red, swollen and very uncomfortable.

The quilting process is painful so it can affect the little critters mood a lot, which it definitely did. Remember what I said about needing to spend a lot of time handling them? It was hard for me to want to handle her when sixty percent of her body hurt when I tried to pick her up and handle her. This left me with a grumpy, lonely, uncomfortable hedgehog. Thankfully the quilling process only lasts for a couple of weeks, then you can get back to your normal routine.

Despite all this, I absolutely love my little girl and I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to own such a special creature.

If there is anything else you would like to know, or you would like to so more blog posts about owning a hedgehog please let me know!

 

 

 

The Hotel De Glace or Ice Hotel is truly one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been. It was one of the only things I know for sure I wanted to visit when we went to Quebec, but I had never seen any picture of the inside or really read that much about it, so I was completely blown away.

I was heartbroken that my camera battery died about a half an hour into our visit and none of the pictures on my phone turned out very well. Thankfully I travel with a very talented photographer so some of his pictures are mixed in. You can tell them apart because I like to shoot in landscape and he shoots in portrait.

Be sure to check him out on Instagram (here)

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The hotel is located north of Quebec City, on the slopes of the Laurentian mountains, in Charlesbourg. It was the first and so far the only ice hotel in North America and it is built each December and opens in early January. The hotel lasts for only three months every year from January to April. It started out with 11 double beds when it first opened, and it now has 51 double beds. The beds are all made of ice, followed by a  wood base and soft mattress. For those brave enough to stay overnight, a cozy sleeping bag, isolating bed sheets, and a pillow is delivered to the rooms.

It takes a team of 50 workers about a month and a half to build. The snow made for the structure is a special mixture that is made to be stronger and adjust to humidity.  The hotel is made of 30,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice and the walls are up to four feet thick.

The Ice hotel first opened on New Year’s Day in 2001. It was located in Montmorency Falls Park, on the outskirts of Quebec City, that first year, and move to the nearby Duchesnay resort next year. It was built there up until to 2010. The Hôtel de Glace then moved to a new site in 2011, in Charlesbourg, and has been built there ever since.

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I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of Wandering Quebec!

Would you ever stay in the Ice Hotel?

First Degustabox review of the year!

This months theme is New Year New You, although I’m not sure how well all the carbs and chocolate fit the theme, but they are delicious.

Degustabox is a monthly subscription plan which contains a bunch of surprise food products with each box. The items are selected from name brands, will contain fun flavors, and give you a new option to think about the next time you’re looking for a break in your eating routine.

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LA TORTILLA FACTORY Low Carb Flour Tortillas $4.89

“With only 4g net carbs, each of these tortillas is packed with 3g of protein, and only 45 calories. Plus, they’re made with unbleached wheat flour and no GMOs.”

Always happy to have tortillas in the house! I have used this brand before and they make some top notch ones.

dsc_0039GROUNDED SNACKS Vanilla Chai Baked Grain Bites $3.49

“We’ve mastered the right balance of rich vanilla mixed with warm cinnamon, and exotic spices to create a superb Vanilla Chai flavor sensation.”

These are so tasty! They remind me so much of the cinnamon toast cereal that we used to get when I was a kid. The sweet cinnamon and vanilla flavor goes really well with the crunchy puffs. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for these.

dsc_0045IDAHOAN FOOD Mashed Potatoes $1.39

“For those who can’t get enough of a good thing, our Idahoan mashed potatoes are perfectly blended 100% real Idaho potatoes with flavorful ingredients to create delicious favorites.”

I haven’t tried these yet but I’ve had Idahoah’s potatoes before and there are really nice.

dsc_0048PARTNER’S CRACKERS $3.29

“These delicious, slow-baked crackers are made with real honest ingredients, like buttermilk, extra virgin olive oil, and a touch of sea salt. They’re perfect for snacking on their own or pair them with anything from hummus to the fanciest of cheeses.”

I’m so excited to try these, they look amazing! I’m saving them up for a movie night with a cheese platter.

dsc_0050SMASHCRISPY Cinnamon Churro/ Strawberries & Cream $1.99

“Smashcrispy is no ordinary crispy rice treat. This epic smashes up is made from only the very best simple ingredients and packed with flavor for a tasty twist on a classic. A guilt-free, everyday, anytime of day treat for the taste buds that are just like you remember only better.”

Between the two flavors, the cinnamon Churro is definitely my favorite, but I tend to be a bit of a purist when it comes to my crispy treats. The Strawberries & Cream flavor just doesn’t work for me, but my family tasted it and liked it.

dsc_0067VITABELLA Traditional Choco Crispies $5.99

” Traditional Choco Crispies are made with 100% organic Italian whole rice, steam cooked and coated with the best selection of cocoa powder.”

I have always thought that adding chocolate to cereal makes it even harder to pass it off as a breakfast food.  Although this one isn’t particularly sweet, it has a very strong dark chocolate flavor and a subtle touch of sweet.

dsc_0060SWEET BABY RAY’S Hot Sauce $3.29

“When it comes to hot sauce, there’s really no such thing as overdoing it. With a hearty kick of aged cayenne and garlic, this brand-new sauce will soon become your go-to for just about everything.”

Hot sauce isn’t something I use a lot on its own, I tend to use it as an ingredient way more often. I have used Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce quite a bit so I’m excited to try out their hot sauce.

dsc_0055MICHEL et AUGUSTIN Cookie Squares 

“These cookie squares are baked in France with butter, chocolate, and amour! Made with ingredients you could find in your kitchen, each recipe brings together crispy shortbread and a dreamy, creamy chocolate ganache.”

My only complaint with these cookie squares is that there were only two of them. They are a great little bite-sized snack and I love the shortbread and chocolate ganache together.

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CHOCOLAT FREY Swiss Chocolate Milk Crunchy Nut Bar $3.29

“With more than 25% nuts and made with authentic Swiss chocolate, these premium bars are a delight for all nut and chocolate lovers.”

This was so delicious! It is so nice to have milk chocolate for a change! I’m really not a fan of dark but I love milk. The chocolate in the bar is smooth and creamy, and I love that they used hazelnuts instead of almonds or peanuts.

dsc_0057MARANATHA Almond Butter $9.99 for 12oz jar.

“Satisfy your afternoon craving with a MaraNatha packet, the perfect on-the-go snack. Try all three flavors including Dark Chocolate, Caramel, and Coconut.”

These almond butters were all really good but I think the dark chocolate and the coconut are my favorites, the caramel was just a bit too much like a dessert, although, it would make a great cake filling. The coconut really just tasted like almond butter, maybe with a tiny taste of coconut, the chocolate reminded me of Nutella and was absolutely delicious on apple slices.

You can get 50% off your first Degustabox here.

  November Degustabox      December Degustabox  

This box was sent to me for review, all thoughts are as always, my own.

 

My family and I spent the First week of January in Quebec City, we rented a sweet little house about five minutes from Old Quebec City and based all our wanderings from there.

I took some many photos that I’m proud of and want to share with you all,  but I think there are a few too many to share all at once so I’m going to do a little miniseries, not published in any particular order other than the order I feel like posting them.

Welcome to Wandering Quebec.

After two very cold snowy days, we finally had a clear slightly more mild day, and we chose to visit Montmorency Falls or Chutes Montmorency. 

dsc_0045Montmorency Falls is located on the boundary between the borough of Beauport, and Boischatel, about 7.5 miles from the heart of old Quebec City. The area surrounding the falls is protected within the Montmorency Falls Park. The falls are at the mouth of the Montmorency River where it drops over the cliff shore into the Saint Lawrence River, opposite the western end of the Île d’Orleans. The waterfalls are 272′ tall, a full 99′ higher than Niagara Falls

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain visited the falls at the mouth of the river and named it the great falls of Montmorency” in honor of Charles de Montmorency who Champlain had dedicated his explorations. The name of the falls came to be applied to the whole river.

In 1759, the Montmorency River formed a major obstacle to English General James Wolfe that prevented him from invading Quebec City from the east and subsequently forced him to scale the cliffs west of the city and battle the French on the Plains of Abraham. Remains of an earthen fort built by Wolfe can still be found on the east side of the falls.

In the 19th century, colonization and logging of the interior really took off, and settlers came to the Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval area in 1830. The river was used for log driving and its shorelines became industrialized with the construction of a hydro-electric dam and sawmill top and foot of the Montmorency Falls respectively. After the logging period ended, the textile industry started to develop at the mouth of the river.

In 1992, the area surrounding the falls and mouth of the river was made into a park and developed for tourism with viewing platforms, stairs, pedestrian bridge, aerial tram,  and a visitor’s center.

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What an absolutely stunning place, the view from the footbridge was so breathtaking I hardly noticed the icy wind, there is something so fiercely beautiful about waterfalls in the winter.

I hope you enjoyed the first instalment of Wandering Quebec! There will be more coming very soon.

 

On December 26th My family took the three-hour drive up to Boothbay to visit the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens for their annual Gardens Aglow, the biggest lights display in New England with over 650,000 lights.

This was my second year attending and this year was so much nicer. Last year was absolutely fridged, so it was much easier to enjoy the lights when your eyes aren’t freezing shut and it doesn’t hurt to breath.

This year the whole thing was simply magical and I just had to share some photos with you, although these don’t do the lights justice, I am still very proud of how these turned out.

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Today is the day! A Sparkle Of Grace is now two years old!

Two years ago on December 29 I pressed publish on the very first post here on A Sparkle Of Grace and there was no looking back. This year has gone by in a flesh, but it was still bursting with brilliant and wonderful things, along with a few rough patches.

Today I will be looking back over the highlights of A Sparkle Of Grace in 2018 along with a  few personal highlights mixed in.

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Early in the year, I decided to open up about why I started blogging about makeup and beauty in Confessions of a beauty blogger. This was inspired by me hearing a lot of the misconceptions that beauty bloggers face, and I felt like it was something I wanted to address so my readers know where I’m coming from.

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In February I finally had My Blogging Space, though it’s small I love it. Having a desk and a place to organize all my blogging paraphernalia is definitely a game changer.

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In March we spent six days in Florida, divided between Englewood and Palm Beach. I wrote up a Florida Photo Diary, which sparked my desire to write more photography based posts.  In West Palm Beach we discovered Agora Mediterranean Kitchen which was the best restaurant ever, I would gladly go back to Palm Beach just for them.

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Also in March, I published Clear Skin Starts here: MDAcne Review. This was my very first sponsored post, so it was a huge milestone for me.DSC_0079

In April I published my visit and review of  The SoakingPot, which boasts the most viewed post of the year, and the first time I was invited to visit a business for the sake of my blog.DSC_0339

June brought about the very first of my Wandering Maine series, where I embraced my love of this beautiful state and my love of history and photograph. Wandering Maine: Portland Head Light & Fort Williams Park.

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And last but definitely not least I got to work with NibMor Chocolate once again and an original recipe using their chocolate Gluten-Free Brownies With NibMor Chocolate.

A few other highlights from this year.

I made my first $100 through A Sparkle Of Grace.

This was such a huge milestone for me, I never really set out to make money but it is so rewarding that people appreciate what I do so much.

I turned twenty-one.

It’s way less exciting then everyone says it is it’s just like being twenty, but still it’s a milestone that demands some recognition

I got to see one of my favorite singing groups in concert. 

I have been wanting to see Celtic Thunder in concert for years, but the timing of there shows and life never worked out. So as soon as they released their 2018 tour dates I bought tickets.

They are simply amazing live, but being the longtime fan that I am I might be biased. The show was everything I thought it would be and more, they performed every song from the new album and more, with the exception of Michael O’Dwyer’s solo songs as O’Dwyer as unable to accompany the group for the X tour.

 I became an aunt and witness the birth of my sweet little nephew.

Honestly, this tops everything else that happened this year and the past few combined, I mean there is a brand new little human in our family.

August 10 started out quite ordinary, I woke up early and headed out to take my sister to a regular doctors appointment. We had planned on going out to lunch and catching a movie, hahaha the best-laid plans of mice and all that.

Thus started thirty-six hours of being wide awake and slightly stressed. I don’t think anyone planned on me being in the room the whole time, I know I certainly didn’t, but it was way better than being in the waiting room worrying even if it was a little traumatizing.

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This year was amazing and there is no question about that, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few rough patches too, and I feel like they are important to talk about as well because life isn’t perfect no matter how wonderful it is.

Writer’s block.

I have been blogging for over five years and I have never experienced writer’s block like this before, it was not from a lack of ideas, or desire to write, I just couldn’t do it. I did the minimum, I wrote the post I had agreed to do with companies and forced out a few in between. I even tried taking an intentional break from blogging but that made it so much worse because I missed it so much but couldn’t put my mind to it.

I think I’m finally on the other side of it and looking forward to putting my all back into it.

Chronic pain.

I have talked a little about this before but it’s not something I really like to focus on, but I have suffered from chronic headaches, and all over discomfort for quite a few years now. I have my good days and my bad days but never a day without them. This year my doctor gave me a tentative diagnosis of Fibromyalgia and I have been trying out different medications to try to find one that works.

I have had weeks where every day is a challenge just to do what needs to be done, these were also the times my writer’s block was at its worst. This year has been super busy which I think has been a big factor in why I’ve been having more bad days, I just can’t begin to say how blessed I am to be surrounded by such wonderful and understanding people.

There have been other little bumps in the road, but overall this has been a wonderful year. I have been stepping out of my comfort zone more and been blessed with some great opportunities.

I can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

 

 

 

 

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

This months Degustabox review is a little later than usual but these last couple of weeks have been crazy, but I hope it was worth the wait.

Degustabox is a monthly subscription plan which contains a bunch of surprise food products with each box. The items are selected from name brands, will contain fun flavors, and give you a new option to think about the next time you’re looking for a break in your eating routine.

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G.H. CRETORS The Mix Popped Corn $1.79

Introducing G.H. Cretors The Mix Popped Corn. Just a taste of the handcrafted blend of rich, buttery caramel and premium aged cheddar cheese, and you’ll discover our Obsessively Delicious sweet and salty popped corn.

While I love both caramel popcorn and cheddar popcorn, I’m not completely sold on the idea of them going together.  Both flavors in this Mix are delicious, but I didn’t find myself wanting to pop and a whole handful in my mouth at once.

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CAMPFIRE Marshmallows $2.50

Campfire premium quality mini-marshmallows. Perfect for baking and snacking.

I actually use Campfire marshmallows quite often. I used these to make fondant for some Christmas recipes.

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BAHLSEN Iced Cinnamon Stars $4.99

The wonderful scent of cinnamon and a hint of hazelnut make iced cinnamon stars the perfect festive treat for the whole family.

These have quite a unique flavor, the cinnamon is very strong giving the cookies a spicy warmth. I dipped these in my coffee, so delicious. DSC_0018

SUNSPIRE Dark Chocolate SunDrops $5.99

SunDrops offer the great candy taste you love with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Add some fun to your baking and snacking endeavors.

I mean you can’t really go wrong with these! They are delicious! I was going to bake something with them but they didn’t last that long.

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CHIMES Orange Ginger Chews $1.99

Chewy ginger candies made with real java ginger. Smooth, energizing, and satisfying!

Every time I see ginger chews I think of my dad, we share a strong love of anything ginger and Chimes chews, in particular, are a favorite. This is the first time I’ve tried the orange ones and I have to say they are amazing! Ginger and citrus is always a winning combination.

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VAHDAM TEAS $5.99

Discover the superiority of a garden fresh long leaf tea with the convenience of the VAHDAM Single Serve Pyramid Tea Bags. Each serving is packaged in a pyramid-shaped nylon tea bag, individually sealed enveloped & sealed at the source to ensure you get the freshest cup of tea.

I’m a big tea drinker, usually two or three cups a day varying between black and green, but I tend to be a little stuck in my ways when it comes to trying new brands and varieties. So far I have really enjoyed every one of these that I have tried, which is all but two.

This sampler contained five teas, Turmeric Spiced Herbal, Chamomile Mint Citrus Green, India’s Original Chai, Organic Himalayan Green, and Darjeeling Summer Black. The Turmeric Spiced is my favorite.

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CHEF PAUL PRUDHOMME’S Poultry Magic $3.00

Chef Paul Prudhomme revolutionized home cooking by making flavoring food a cinch! Magic Seasoning Blends Poultry Magic is no exception. As an ingredient or a “sprinkle-on” seasoning, Poultry Magic enhances flavors of any dish using warm notes of garlic, onion, and herbs. Low in sodium, rich in taste. 

We have always been loyal Bell’s fans but that doesn’t mean I won’t try anything new. This stuff smells delicious and it has a slight punch of spice that I love. I also love the short list of ingredients.

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DAVE’S GOURMET $6.99

Jalapenos, lime, ginger and more, whipped to create a rich creamy texture and a complex flavor with medium heat. This vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO sauce is terrific on most any food and has an incredibly unique flavor.

I haven’t had a chance to try this yet but it sounds amazing like I mentioned before, I’m a big ginger fan, and citrus and ginger are perfect together.

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GARDEN OF LIFE Maple Sea Salt Gol Bar $2.49

Clean & Simple: Whatever your gol(goal), we help you get there with our deliciously simple protein bars made exclusively from real certified organic, non-GMO project verified whole food ingredients. No compromises, no GMOs, no rBGH or BST. 

Protein bars and I don’t always get along, but these Gol bars are amazing! I have gotten one before that I really liked but this one is even better. It’s honestly like a candy bar, the maple and sea salt combo is definitely a winner.

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HU CHOCOLATE Crunchy Banana Dark Chocolate

HU (as in HUman) Chocolate, the cult-favorite vegan and paleo chocolate bar, made with “no weird ingredients, ever” is free from dairy, palm oil, emulsifiers, soy lecithin, gluten, refined sugar, cane sugar, and sugar alcohols. Hu is inspired by quality foods ability to heal versus poor quality food’s guaranteed to hinder. Hu’s mission is to help people get back to eating, living, and thriving like humans.

Unfortunately, this was a bit of a miss for me, I wasn’t a fan of the flavors and the chunks of banana just didn’t work in my opinion, but I do appreciate that so good for you and that it doesn’t have all that bad stuff in it.

 

 

You can get 50% off your first Degustabox here.

   September Degustabox    November Degustabox 

This box was sent to me for review, all thoughts are as always, my own.

What is cozier than a warm brownie and a cup of coffee on a cold afternoon?

As soon as December rolled around I start wanting to bake every free moment I get, but amongst all the macarons and candy canes I needed to take a step back and make something better for me. These brownies are gluten-free and made with monk fruit instead of regular sugar, and while they can’t be technically called sugar-free because there is some sugar in the chocolate they are way better for you than your traditional chocolate brownies.

I’m so happy to be working with NibMor again! Some of you may remember the recipes I did with them last Summer, I will leave links to those at the end of this post. NibMor is a chocolate company based right here in Maine. NibMor is dedicated to using the highest quality ingredients and fair trade practices to create chocolate snacks for everyone. Their chocolate is organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan and fair trade.

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Brownie Recipe

3/4 Cup Butter

1 Cup Monk Fruit Sweetener – I use Lakanto

Three NibMor Drinking Chocolate Packets or 3/4 Cups Cocoa

3 Eggs- Room temperature 

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

1 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract

3/4 Cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour

1/2 Cup Chocolate- Chopped into bits, plus extra chocolate for the top of the brownies. I used a mix of Mint and Extreme Dark.

  1. Preheat your oven to 350f.
  2. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper, this will make it so much easier to remove the brownies from the pan when they are finished.
  3. Whisk together the monk fruit sweetener and the cocoa in a medium-sized bowl
  4. In a small bowl melt the butter, then add the melted butter the cocoa mixture and whisk together until well combined.
  5. Add the three eggs and the vanilla and peppermint extracts.
  6. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chunks until they seem evenly spread throughout the batter.
  8. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan, and bake for between fifteen and twenty minutes, until the start looking crackled on top and a toothpick comes out with just a couple of crumbs on it.
  9. Once the brownies are out of the oven to use the extra chocolate bits and place them on top. I stuck them into the surface so when they melt the chocolate goes more into the brownies instead of just sitting on top.

These brownies are best eaten warm when the chocolate is soft and gooey, but you can’t go wrong either way.

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Thank you so much to NibMor for supplying the chocolate for this recipe! Be sure to check out their website and keep an eye out for them in your local stores.

The Perfect Frozen Hot Chocolate   Decadent Rice Krispy Treats