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 

Fun fact about me, I had my first macaron on my twenty-first birthday and that’s when I discovered that there had been a small macaron shaped hole in my life.

All kidding aside, macarons have never been something I have been exposed to, they must not be a New England thing. I had never ever really seen them until watching things like the British Bake Of, and Zumbo’s Just Desserts.

They soon became something I had to conquer, I mean what kind of baker am I? Something in me felt like I needed this to prove to myself that I’m actually a good baker, like sure I can make a good chocolate cake, but can I make tiny little meringue sandwich cookie? So, after watching lots of Youtube videos, and reading a bunch of articles, I set aside a whole day and set about my new adventure.

After a couple failed attempts I finally got two good batches, and have made them again since with no problems.

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The Macarons 
1 3/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Almond Flour, finely ground
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3 Egg Whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 Drops Pink Gel Food Coloring, I use Wilton 

 

Peppermint Butter Cream

1 Cup Butter, at room temperature
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
2-3 Drops of Pink Food Coloring 
Crushed Candy Canes or Peppermint candies for rolling
  1.  Sift the almond flour, powdered sugar, and half teaspoon of salt through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl( I put it through the sieve twice to make sure it was as smooth as possible)
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt with a mixer until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar a little at a time until fully incorporated. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form, you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out.
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the food coloring and beat until just combined.
  4. Add about 1/3 of the sifted almond flour mixture at a time to the beaten egg whites and use a spatula to gently fold until combined. After the flour is combined, continue to fold until you can swirl the batter in figure eight shapes without the batter breaking.
  5. Transfer the macaron batter into a piping bag fitted with a round tip.DSC_0087
  6. Place 4 dots of the batter in each corner of a rimmed baking sheet, and place a piece of parchment paper over it, using the batter to help adhere the parchment to the baking sheet.
  7. Pipe the macarons onto the parchment paper in 1 1/2 inch circle, spacing at least 1-inch apart. I was in a bit of a rush so eyeballed it this time which made them a little unevenly sized I would recommend marking your paper so you get them all the same size and distance apart.
  8. Tap the baking sheet on a flat surface five or six times to release any air bubbles.
  9. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until dry to the touch.
  10. Preheat the oven to 300˚F.
  11. Bake the macarons for 17 minutes, until the feet are well-risen and the macarons no longer stick to the parchment paper.
  12. Place the macarons to a wire rack to cool completely before filling them.

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Pepper Mint Butter Cream.

  1. In a medium-sized bowl beat the butter with the peppermint extract until smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time mixing on a low speed.
  3. Add the heavy cream to the butter mixture, you may want more or less depending on the thickness you like your buttercream.
  4. Add the pink food coloring one drop at a time until you get just the right shade of pink.
  5. Place the buttercream into an icing bag with a large round tip.
  6. Once the cookies are completely cool start filling them.
  7. Pipe a dollop of buttercream on one of the cookies, and sandwich the two cookies together.  Leave enough room for the buttercream to spread as you sandwich the two together if it does come out over the edges just wipe away the excess with your fingers.
  8. The final step is to roll the macarons in the crushed peppermints.

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There you have it! Pretty, delicate little cookies that make you feel instantly more sophisticated by eating them, especially when accompanied by espresso.

The basic cookie recipe is very versatile, you can change it up with different extracts and colors, and the choice of fillings is endless, but I do highly recommend the peppermint for a sweet holiday treat.

Hello! I’m back!

I have been suffering from a bit writer’s block lately, I have had a ton of things I want to write, but I just haven’t been able to focus on blogging.  I’ve got a lot of things planned for December, so I’m doing my best not to procrastinate any longer.

Anyways! Onto the review!

It was love at first sight when I saw this palette in Sephora, believe it or not, I have never had a Tarte palette before, I have bought them for other people but never used one my self, and let me just say, they do not disappoint.

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To start out the packaging is absolutely stunning! As a girl who is drawn to anything sparkly these one makes me very happy, but thankfully the inside is just as pretty as the outside.

The top is covered in peachy pink and gold sequins and sparkles, the case its self is a light gold. I really like the size of it as well, it is great for travel as it has all the colors I need and the size is perfect for slipping in your bag.

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Sizzle has seven neutral shades, two mattes, and five metallics. It is a rare palette these days that I will end up using every single shadow in, but every now and then you find a little gem like this.

Kite Surf (metallic light peach champagne)

Snorkel (soft metallic pink)

Paddleboard (matte warm tan)

High Tide (metallic copper)

Off Duty (matte brown)

Sandcastle (metallic plum)

Starfish (metallic deep rose gold)

Playa (matte soft pink)

All of the shadows are beautifully pigmented,  soft, almost creamy, and blend like a dream. The metallics are of course my favorites, Kite Surf, and High Tide especially, but the mattes are gorgeous as well.

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Final thoughts are that this is a wonderful little palette and I can’t recommend it enough! It’s perfect for both everyday natural, but it can easily transition for a more glam look. I am so happy to have this in my collection, and I will definitely be picking up more of Tarte’s eyeshadows.

 

 

This month’s Degustabox was full of great things! Popcorn, chocolate, mint patties, and a bunch of other interesting things.

Degustabox is a monthly subscription plan which contains 9-14 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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POPCORN, INDIANA Black & White $3.39

“These are little pieces of art but instead of paint, we use dark and white chocolate. And Instead of canvas, we use popcorn. Our Black & White Drizzlecorn is rich dark chocolate and luscious white chocolate drizzled all over you crunchy kettle corn. It’s a sweet & Salty masterpiece.”

Anytime I have popcorn is a good time. This is definitely a more decadent popcorn, not one that you would want to eat the whole bag in one sitting, it’s very rich and sweet so it’s better to share.

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POPCORNERS Kettle Corn $3.29 for 7oz Bag 

“PopCorners are a delicious, wholesome snack made with non-GMO corn sourced from our network of family farmers from right here in the US.”

I quite like these! They are just like kettle corn but much less messy to consume than their popcorn inspiration.

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BAUDUCCO Mini Panettone $2.99

“Panettone is a traditional Italian holiday cake made with care in a prosses that take 52 hours. The mini Panettone is the bite-sized version of this delicacy, perfect for on the go and as a gift option for the holiday season.”

Personally, I’m not a fan of Panettone, but that just because I don’t like raisins, the bread itself has a lovely flavor, and my family really enjoyed it.

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WHOLESOME GOODNESS Tuxedo Mix $1.25

“Tuxedo Music brings together delicious Yogurt covered raisins and peanuts with crunchy dark chocolate covered soy nuts and infusion roasted peanuts for an incredible flavor combination. An exciting way to energize your day.”

I love little packets like this, they are perfect for grabbing when you’re in a rush. My favorite was the chocolate covered soy nuts, such a nice crispy crunch.

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CHICKAPEA Mac & Cheese $3.99

“Chickapea Mac & Cheese is everything you crave in a comfort food, but without the guilt! We’ve paired our organic nutritious, gluten-free, chickpea lentil pasta with a clean, organic cheese sauce that you and your family will love.”

I haven’t had a chance to try this out yet, I’m really interested to see what it’s like.

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GRAND BELGIAN Assorted Chocolates $6.99

“The Grand assorted chocolates box gives you a variety of 16 pure Belgian chocolates-or pralines, as we like to call them- which are engineered for enchantment. Our signature chocolate recipes are tested for taste, bite, and the perfect amount of shine.”

This has to be the most fun thing I have gotten in one of these boxes so far, I mean it’s a box of chocolates! I’m not the biggest fan of chocolates so I had a couple, and shared the rest with my family. They went over very well and everyone enjoyed them.

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BUSH’S BEST Black Bean Dip $2.49

“Nobody knows beans better than Bush’s! Family-owned and operated, on tables across America for over 100 years. These tasty bean dips are packed with flavor. You can feel good serving Bush’s Bean Dip to family and friends because it’s low sodium, trans-fat-free, and has no added sugar.”

Not a fan of bean dip so I will be passing this along to someone who will enjoy it more than I  would.

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PEARSON’S Mint Patties $2.49

“Medallion shaped for a reason, Mint Patties are filled with creamy centers made of aromatic real peppermint oil and covered in rich dark chocolate.”

I loved these! Mint and chocolate are always a winning combination. I will definitely be looking out for these.

PEARSON’S Coconut Patties $1.00

“Coconut Patties are small discs that pack a powerful punch, containing coconut and covered in incredible, rich dark chocolate.”

I’m not as fond of the coconut as I am of the mint, I find the coconut and chocolate to have a flat flavor both being very rich and sweet.

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NUTIVA Coconut Oil

Nutiva’s organic culinary oils give you more ways to cook healthily, using nutritious products made organically, ethically and without harsh chemicals processing.”

I have used Nutiva coconut oil before and I really like it, the quality is exceptional.

You can get 50% off your first Degustabox here.

October Degustabox        September Degustabox 

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

We have about of an inch of snow on the ground here in Maine and  I’m starting to mourn the loss of Autumn, so as a last pumpkin flavored hurrah I wanted to share this delicious recipe with you.

First discovered these cookies last year and I have made them three times this Fall, and they are probably my favorite cook to make and eat. They have all the elements, pumpkin, a soft cookie, and a sweet and salty caramel frosting.

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Pumpkin Cookies 

  • 1 Cup Room Temperature Butter
  • 2/3 Cups Lightly Packed Brown Sugar 
  • 1/3 Sugar
  • 1 Large Room Temperature Egg
  • 11/2 Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
  • 2 Teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice 
  • 11/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon 

 

Preheat your oven to 350f and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugars, and add the egg and vanilla.

In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices.  Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix all the flour is combined, but not much longer.

Use a cookie dough scoop or a teaspoon place the dough on the parchment about two inches apart.

Let the cookies cool before frosting.

 

Salted Caramel Frosting 

  • 4 Teaspoon Butter
  • 3 Tablespoon Heavy Cream 
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar 
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 11/2 Teaspoons Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar 

 

In a small saucepan melt the butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, and sea salt over a medium heat. Whisk constantly, and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute.

Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, mix until smooth.

Frost the cookies immediately because the frosting will start to set as soon as you take it off the heat.

Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on each cookie.

Tip: If you use sea salt on top of the frosting and store them in an airtight container the salt will melt and leave little dents in the frosting. I would recommend skipping the salt if you are going to store the cookies, or you could add it later.

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I hope you enjoy this recipe! I absolutely love these cookies, I might make them now and then throughout the winter if I start missing Fall too much.

What is your favorite Fall recipe?

I want to start out by telling you a little bit about my hair, what I love about it and what I’m not so crazy about.  My hair tends to get a little neglected, I love it and try to take care of it but there is no denying that it could use some extra effort.

I often talk about my hair as if it had a mind of its own, which in a way it does, one day it will hold a curl like a dream, and falls perfectly around my face and shoulders. And the next day I can style if the same way and it will have none of it. It will either fall flat in an hour, or I will have rogue strands in my eyes and mouth all day until I give up and pull it back.

My hair is an ashy brown color with strands of gold and blond, and a spattering of gray through it, and left to dry on its own it is slightly wavy and a little frizzy.

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If you follow me on Instagram chances are you already know about Formulate.

Formulate is a custom hair care company that makes a formula that is designed just for you, based on your hair now, where you want your hair to be, how much work you put into your hair and your environment.

You take a survey about your hair to determine what problems you have, and general questions like color, density, is your hair color treated? Things like that, and their products are sulfate free, dye free, paraben free, and cruelty-free, doesn’t get much better than that.

It took two tries to find a formula that worked for me, the first one made my hair feel heavy and look greasy, but the Formulate Team was quick to find the problems and I had my reformulated shampoo and conditioner within a week.

Before                                                     After 

The second batch worked so much better, my hair feels clean and soft, not weighed done of flat and it definitely feels healthier. The before and afters are really not that different, but my hair is shinier and feels more nourished.

Final thoughts.

Formulate is a something I would highly recommend to anyone, I have tried enough hair products to know that they are not a one size fits all kind of thing. I can see this especially being great for those of you that have fussier more particular hair, Formulate could save both money and the hassle of trial and error

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Giveaway!

Want to try it out for yourself? Formulate is giving one of you lovely people your own custom set! Use the link https://www.formulate.co/u/sparkleofgrace

US Residents Only.

For the last few years on my birthday my sister, my mom, and I have been going on a fun girls shopping trip, this year we had my baby nephew in tow.

We head over the Portland and go to all the fun stores that we don’t have near us, like Sephora and Ulta. Since I have accounts with some of them I also get a free gift on my birthday which makes it a little extra fun.

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Our First stop was Anthropology and picked up the Pixi Makeup Fixing Mist, there are only two stores within two hours of me that sell Pixi,  so when I’m there I always want to pick something up.

I have been using it all week and I’m loving it! it as rose and green tea in it so it smells amazing. It gives my makeup a more fresh dewy look that I really like, and my makeup has been lasting much longer, but that could also have to do with some other product in conjunction with it.

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There were a few things I wanted to try at Lush, the Snow Fairy Shower Gel, and the Sunshine Bubble Bar, I also picked up a couple of bath bombs while I was there.

The bubble bar was an interesting experience, for the full effect of how pretty it makes the bath you have to be in the dark and shine direct light onto the water, that way the gold shimmer sparkles and is quite mesmerizing. The downside is that it makes the water a suspicious shade of yellow and it doesn’t really bubble very much, my skin did feel soft and moisturized afterward though.

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I always feel so confident going into these stores, I have a bunch of things I’ve been wanting to try and I know exactly what I want to get. However, as soon as I step foot in Sephora I feel totally overwhelmed and my brain shuts down, leaving me to wonder the aisles swatching and wishing I could afford the whole store.

After some deliberation, I decided to just get on the thing and hopefully think clearer in Ulta. I settled on the Tarte Rainforest Of The Sea, Sizzle palette,  and I’m so glad I did, every single shade will work for me, and it’s my very first Tarte palette. I will have a full review with swatched up soon.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Sephora was that being a Beauty Insider means I get a birthday gift. This year I decided on the Bite Beauty Matte Cream Lip Crayon in Glace, and Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Chai and a sample of the Agava lips scrub and lip balm. These two are both lip colors that I wouldn’t choose myself, but the formula on both is lovely, super comfortable and they smell amazing.

I also had collected enough point to get a free gift, so I grabbed a mini of the Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, which is actually amazing and I’m going to be ordering a full sized one right away.

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I always forget how big Ulta is and how much they carry, they have been adding more and more brands to the list as well so it’s a bit frightening to go in there.

I did know that wanted to pick up a primer and foundation so at least I had some direction. I decided on the BareMineral BarePro Performance Wear Liquid Foundation and the Benefit The Porfessional Primer. So far I’m really liking the foundation, and I will have a full post up about that soon. The primmer, I’m still trying it out and will do a full review of if you guys are interested in hearing my thoughts on it.

One of the brands that Ulta has recently started carrying is Zoella Beauty which I have been wanting to try but haven’t been able to get my hands on it, I didn’t know where to start so I grabbed the Zoella Beauty Cream Scrub. This scrub is really interesting, and I haven’t completely decided if I like it or not. It smells really nice, but the texture is not what I’m used to in a scrub.

I have seen the Frank Body Shimmer Scrub floating about the interweb and I was very interested in trying it. I didn’t even remember it until I saw it in the bins buy the registers

That’s what I bought myself for my birthday!

Is there anything you would like to see a full review of? Let me know down in the comments!

 

Last Post           Instagram 

last weekend We went for a day trip up the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, to soak up the beautiful Autumn scenery before all the leaves fall.

The Kancamagus is a 34-mile scenic highway drive along route 112 in Northern New Hampshire and is one of the very best places to find Fall foliage in the country. It is a huge draw for tourism as we experienced, the roads wear busy and it was hard to find a place to park at all of the scenic overlooks.

Today I just wanted to share some of my favorite photos of the rivers, mountains, and trees.

Enjoy!

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