Apple Cider Pt 2.


Finishing up the last round of apple cider! If you missed it, I posted two recipes here for Peppermint Apple Cider and Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider. Check it out if you can!



Caramel Apple Cider

Honestly, when we were thinking of flavor "twists" for apple cider we just thought of things that apple was already twisted with.

Apples and pork? No. Apples and cinnamon? Too plain. Caramel Apple! OH GENIUS.



My group did a basic google search on caramel apple cider and this is what appeared: Betty Crocker's Caramel Apple Cider. If Betty Crocker did it...it must be good. That, and why fix something if it ain't broke?

This apple cider was actually the easiest to make and had the fewest ingredients.


According to good ol' BC, you'll need Brown Sugar, Heavy Whipping Cream, and Vanilla extract. If you're fancy, you can also make/buy some whipped cream and caramel topping to add some finishing touches.


In the end, you get this. Surprisingly, to me at least, it was amazing. When I was cooking the caramel and mixing the whole concoction together I found the smell a little off-putting, however boyfriend loved it. He kept coming over to sniff around and ask what I was making.

The final mixture was a cloudy amber and tasted exactly like a caramel apple. It was insane!! It was sweet and tart at the same time. The final mix was almost like a liquified version of a caramel apple pop.

This was boyfriend's favorite out of everything.

Pomegranate-Blueberry Apple Cider

This is something that boyfriend and I free-styled on our own. After drinking and making Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider, Peppermint Apple Cider, and Caramel Apple Cider we felt that our teeth were about to fall out. We wanted something less sugary and more "traditional." We took the base of mulled apple cider and twisted it with a pomegranate-blueberry juice. 


Recipe for Two:

2 and 1/2 Cups Apple Cider
1 and 1/4 Cups of Pomegranate Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
8 Cloves
1 Stick of Cinnamon


Honestly, it looks free styled. The amber of the apple cider and the deep purple of the pomegranate juice combined to make a rather muddy liquid. It tasted fine, but it wasn't pretty. It gave our palettes relief from the sugary tinctures and suffusions we had made previously with a fruity, almost bitter bite. It was a unique twist, the pomegranate juice and the apple cider really complemented each other, and I could see people drinking this outside on a fall day, but the juices intermixing was subtle. If you're looking for a "Wow! Flavor!" sort of apple cider, I don't think this is it.

Mulled Apple Cider 



This apple cider recipe is just the traditional old-fashioned Grammy-approved Mulled Apple Cider. I stole this recipe from my friend's Grammy. She always serves this during the holiday family get togethers and it's a time-worn favorite.

Recipe:

2 Quarts Cider
1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Allspice
1 and 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 Sticks Cinnamon
Orange Slices (1 Whole Orange)


Grammy recommends throwing all of this in a slow cooker for four hours before serving. It's infused with spices and the orange gives an added level of sweetness that plain apple cider doesn't have. This is personally my favorite and the only cider that I could drink more than one cup of. 



Long live apple cider! Tell me about your fall traditions and family recipes! I'm always interested in trying something new. 

On Wednesdays We Wear...+ Contest!

Jacket: Zara, Dress C/O: eShakti, Purse: Coach, Shoes: D&G




We have to enjoy the warm weather while it still lasts! I've heard that this winter is supposed to be especially harsh...so if summer bleeds a little bit into fall....I'm not complaining! Although pink has never been a favorite color of mine, I'm coming to appreciate it more and more when I want to add some "lady" to my wardrobe. I'm loving this Audrey Hepburn-ish Zara coat and my custom made eShakti dress.

If you haven't heard, eShakti is a website with the ultimate level of clothing customization. They offer sizes 0-36W and even an option to put in your own measurements. You are given the choice of sleeve length, pockets vs. no pockets, skirt length, and neckline options. eShakti's clothes are amazingly customizable and actually pretty cute!

I ordered this with my actual measurements and asked that the dress be shortened to above the knee length. I'd say it turned out well. Don't you? It fits better than most of my dresses....from larger retailers. Especially from the likes of J.Crew! 

Contest

Now for the exciting part! eShakti offered to sponsor a giveaway for you guys. I have two $25 dollar gift cards here that I can giveaway. Currently eShakti will give you an additional $25 for registering with their site as a new user and will waive the $7.50 fee on your first custom order. That's $50 dollars off your first purchase and a free customization! I'll be giving one giftcard away here and another on my instagram

Unfortunately this is limited only to US and Canadian residents. 


Social Media Links For the Curious:
Pinterest
Facebook
Instagram

Apple Cider Bar and Party Pt. 1


What do you do when you're bored? Specifically, what do you do during the fall when you're bored? Specifically on the east coast? GO APPLE PICKING.


What do you do with an excess of apples? APPLE CIDER. Honestly though, homemade apple cider requires pressing, pulping, juicing and cheesecloth. What I ended up doing was buying some gallons of apple cider from the Apple Farm and "twisting" their flavors later in my own kitchen. We had a little competition to see what flavor infusion/twist was the best tasting. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but we had four flavors of apple cider. I'm going to share two with you now and two next week, then reveal the winner. Sounds fun right?

Apple Orchard Picked Clean

Peppermint Apple Cider


This is a recipe that we made up on our own, as I've always loved peppermint and forced everyone else to eat it even if they didn't. I think peppermint makes everything better: peppermint teas, peppermint bark, peppermint hot chocolates...why not add peppermint to apple cider? Originally, I wanted to add peppermint extract, but I feared that would be too strong. Adding candy canes and peppermints seemed like the best way to add the peppermint flavor without it being too overpowering.

Recipe:

2 Liters Apple Citer
2 Cinnamon Sticks
6 Cloves
3 Candy Canes or 12 breathmints
2 Oranges worth of Zest

Heat on low until all the peppermints have melted down.


I don't have a slow cooker, so I poured in the apple cider, dropped in the cloves, cinnamon sticks, and peppermint and then peeled the zest straight into the pot. I would have preferred a micro-grater, for decorative purposes, but using a peeler didn't turn out too badly. I personally don't like eating orange peel, so I picked it out before serving. For the final touch, I added whipped cream and sprinkled crushed peppermints on the top. 


Melted down, I genuinely enjoyed this apple cider. Usually it's too sweet or tart, but the peppermint added a nice clean aftertaste to the apple cider. The flavors didn't clash. Instead, the peppermint accentuated the apple cider and didn't make it overly sweet.

Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider


With all the hullabaloo about Pumpkin Spice Latte's coming back into season, my friend group thought this flavor combination was an easy twist to welcome in the autumn weather. It may sound unbelievable to you, but for the most part my friend group has never tried a pumpkin spice latte. We just like pumpkin pie.


I used this recipe from the Tasty Kitchen to get our base formula down, but from there we made a couple of changes. Instead of white sugar I substituted brown, because I think it imparts a richer flavor to pumpkins, yams, and other members of the squash family. I also changed the measurements so that the recipe would accommodate a whole can of pumpkin puree. Although there was an excess of syrup, they made for good party favors to give away at the end of our little gathering. They can be gussied up further in cute mason jars and also make a great topping for ice cream!


For an average sized mug I put in three tablespoons of the pumpkin syrup and poured in hot apple cider. I topped it off with some whipped cream and a little bit more of the syrup, but the discerning palettes of my friends said that the additional whipped cream wasn't needed. Personally, I couldn't taste the "pumpkin spice" flavor too much. All I got was the sweetness of the syrup. I think I would prefer it with vanilla ice cream!

Stay tuned for part two and let me know what your favorite fall drink is!




Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation Review and Swatches


This is the foundation I turned to after my beloved Guerlain Parure Extreme was discontinued. Starting at my new workplace, I may have been talked into this a little bit by my friend, but I'd heard great things about the brand and I was curious to see if the product stood up to the hype surrounding "Future Skin." On the box it says:


An innovative, oil free gel foundation containing 60% charged water and seaweed. Skin looks totally perfected and dewy; sebum is balanced. Aloe, Chamomile, and Arnica calm irritation. Rosemary, Green Tea and Rice Bran help prevent oxidation. Adjustable coverage from medium to full. 

The natural ingredients and Chantecaille's dedication towards organic products and overall "skin health" really intrigued me.



Including this jar of Vanilla Future Skin, I've also gone through one whole jar of Nude. One jar of future skin retails for $75 at stores like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. For $75 you get 1 oz. of product in a thick plastic pot. I really don't like the packaging of this product. Not only is it unsuited for travel, but I think it's harder for products in pots to remain hygienic. Personally, I also tend to be too heavy handed with product when it comes in a format like this so I feel like I'm wasting it with my haphazard daily application. I would have much preferred a pump or tube in terms of dispensing this.



This foundation is really different from most foundations I've tried. The closest thing I can think of is Bourjois Healthy Mix Gel Foundation. However, Chantecaille's formulation isn't as heavily scented as Bourjois'. In terms of texture, I think Bourjois Healthy Mix is a close dupe for the much more expensive Chantecaille foundation.



Although they say the foundation is "medium to full coverage" I feel like one layer of foundation isn't enough for me. The gel foundation is more of a tinted moisturizer or a "your skin but better" foundation. I think this foundation will add a natural glow to anyone who already has perfect or near perfect skin. Not only am I naturally heavy handed, I felt like I needed a lot of foundation to get the coverage level that I wanted.



I usually apply foundations with my fingers or a stippling brush, but the associate who sold me this told me that the best way to apply the foundation was with a flat synthetic foundation brush. You'd brush a base layer onto your entire face and pat more foundation onto the areas where you need more coverage. For me, I focused on increased coverage for my cheeks and my chin.



As I've stated before, I've already used up a pot of this in Nude and repurchased it in a different color, Vanilla. The nude was actually too pink-toned for my skin. As you can tell from the swatches above, Vanilla was just a more natural shade for me in terms of undertone and color.

Here are some photos of the different foundations on my skin. I've only applied a base layer so you can see the amount of coverage. I really like the demi-matte, satin like finish of this foundation.







This is after I completed my whole makeup routine with concealer, powder, and everything else. I have very oily skin and usually "dewy" foundations make me look greasy. I think this is the first time that I've experienced a healthy looking glow.



This is after a full day of wear. I haven't touched up or used oil blotting sheets, but you can tell that I look significantly greasier. Although it's hard to tell in this light, I feel that the lasting power of this foundation is a little lacking. If you have oily skin, you definitely need to set your makeup with a finishing powder to make it last through the day.



Altogether it's a great luxury product, but I feel that it's definitely a "my skin but better" foundation. Even though Future Skin is easily buildable, I have to use an excess of product to get the level of coverage I want. When 1 oz. of product is $75 I want to make it last as long as possible, which is impossible for the amount of daily coverage I need. Application also tends to be a bit finicky when you have troubled skin like mine. Finally, I had a huge issue with the packaging. Not only was keeping the product hygienic a little difficult, it was unnecessarily annoying to travel with. I took it traveling once and it got messy. A lot of product got inside the lid and wasted foundation that I could've put on my face. Given all these factors, I don't think I'll repurchase.

Facts:
- $75 for 1 oz. of Product
- Luxury Cosmetic and only available at high end retailers
- "Medium to Full" Coverage
- Organic Ingredients
- Oil Free

Pros:
- Great for your skin, chock full of ingredients to improve you skin
- Didn't break me out, great for sensitive skins
- Beautiful Finish

Cons:
- Expensive
- Had to use a lot of product to get the coverage I wanted
- Container Unhygienic and Bad for Travel

Purchase Links:
Future Skin

+J Relaunch at Uniqlo! 10/10



Who else is excited for the re-release of Uniqlo's Jill Sander collaboration? Uniqlo's released the entire men's and women's lookbook teasing the sleek, classic, and chic designs of their original Spring 2011 collaboration over this past month. Although Jill Sander is not involved in Uniqlo's decision to bring back the "greatest hits" of her collection, Uniqlo's decided to pick the "creme de la creme" of what sold well during the original release. The collection is slanted a bit more towards the mens' selection, where they have 27 pieces. The women's collection has 15. The whole lookbook is chock full of streamlined basics that will fill a hole in any closet.

The +J collection dropped at the grand opening of the Chestnut Street store on the 3rd of October, but the collection will be available online and in select stores on Oct 10, tomorrow! I've chosen my top five pieces to show you from the collection.
Down Short Parka
This coat retails for $169.90 and comes in two additional colorways: a dusty maroon and a navy. I love the stiff architectural collar of this coat. Although it's short, I can tell that this coat would be a perfect topper to any outfit.

Wool Blended Short Down Coat

The Wool Blended Short Down Coat will retail for $229.90 and only comes in one additional colorway: navy. Similar to the coat above, only with a more subdued collar, I think this coat would come in handy on those biting winter days where you would want the majority of your body covered


Wool Wrap Coat

This coat also comes in brown and navy colorways. Like the coat above, the wool wrap coat also retails for $229.90. If you don't feel like wearing a puffer coat during the wall or winter months, I think a thick wool peacoat or trench is the best alternative. I personally prefer a more fitted coat silhouette and simple details. Luckily this +J coat has both with its tapered waist, collar, and pocket detailing.


Stretch Cashmere V-Neck Long Sleeve Sweater

This cashmere sweater retails for $149.90 and comes in four additional colors: dark grey, black, brown, and navy. I have a weakness for sweaters, and an even greater weakness for cashmere, so when +J made a sleek V-neck cashmere sweater....gimme.


Extra Fine Cotton Slim Fit Long Sleeve Shirt 
This simple button up retails for $49.90 and comes in black and navy as well. I've always liked the image of a collared shirt and sweater combo. For $50, and for Uniqlo quality I think this shirt is actually a very good deal. I love the classic spread collar, tapered waist and the concealed buttons.

Those are my picks! Which are essentially a third of the whole women's collection, but I encourage you to check it out yourselves!



Also, you should participate in the Uniqlo Lucky Line while you can! It's a cutely designed online "raffle contest" where you can enter through your facebook or twitter accounts. Depending on your place in line you can win: $10 dollars off your next online purchase, a limited edition Micky tote, a $200 Uniqlo shopping spree, and a grand prize of a Disney Expo prize pack! I entered through my facebook and twitter and got the tote and the $10 dollars off.

Let me know what you guys get! =) Good luck!

Bkr Water Bottle "Review"


It was just a coincidence when my sister and I simultaneously asked each other if we were interested in the same glass water bottles. Although I was easily mind melded by the proliferation of bottles in my workplace, my sister was motivated by her research on the harmful effects of bpa in plastics and the controversial health risk of bpa free plastics.

These water bottles have hit stores like Neiman Marcus, Whole Foods, and even Amazon.com. You might also see them popping up in carefully curated instagram posts showing chic exercise wear. So, what are they?

They're 100% soda lime glass water bottles with a pretty food-grade silicone sleeve and touted as the best fashion accessory and tool in your beauty arsenal. 

The bottles come in 500ml ($30) and 1L ($42) sizes, but my sister and I found the 1L size to be unwieldy. They're practical, durable, and easy to take around. According to doctors and nutritionists, an average person needs to drink at least two liters of water a day. If I drink four of these little bottles, I know I'm set. 



They are pretty expensive for simple water bottles, but their aesthetic is pleasing. Despite being glass they're also surprisingly durable. bkr has a limited warranty where they will replace your water bottle if it was broken within 90 days, but in order to get your elusive replacement you need to take a photo of the broken bkr, write a 250 word essay on why you love it, pay for shipping, and have a copy of the original receipt. Honestly, to me that sounds like a pain in the butt. I'd just be very careful not to break it...I've seen a bkr dropped from waist height onto a marble floor and come out unscathed so I feel confident in it's ability to withstand moderate damage. That being said, I don't think I'll be rough with it. The brand and design are definitely for the more aesthetically concerned and I think are meant for gym jaunts, office hydration, and city slicking.


If you're past the 90 day mark and happen to lose your cap or break your bottle, they sell replacement caps for $5 and glass bottles, 500 mL for $10 and 1L for $14 on their website.

bkr also releases a fall and spring collection, so if you're coveting a particular silicone sleeve or design you need to purchase it before it's gone. bkr generally releases limited edition bottle information through it's instagram and facebook, so follow them for the latest updates and trends.

Given the price of the bottle and it's limited warranty, I was curious to see what bkr does with the rest of the proceeds on their page. They have a Social Responsibility section in their FAQ, where they say:

What happens to one of us affects all of us. When you buy a bkr, we invest a portion of the proceeds in initiatives that combat the global water crisis, help in the fight against cancer and that create the change we would like to see in the world. We have supported many philanthropic organizations and foundations including: the Obakki Foundation, a non-profit organization that uses fashion and creative arts as a fundraising vehicle to bring water and education to people in Africa; the Canary Foundation, which is dedicated solely to the funding, discovery, and development of tests for early cancer detection; and the Wounded Warrior Project, which helps injured men and women who are returning home from current global conflicts and provides assistance and support to their families.

I'm curious to know what percent of their proceeds go to charity. Not to be bitchy or nosey, but just for transparency's sake.

Altogether, I really like my bkr. I have to admit I got them on a deal so I didn't pay the full $30 for my 500mL water bottle in the color Boy. I've put more use into it than any other water bottle that I've bought before...and like shoes...you can't have just one. If I'm crazy enough I might even buy more colors or purchase the 1L for picnics and beach days!

Pros:
- Holds water
- No metallic taste
- Very cute and easy to carry around
- Top rack dishwasher safe

Cons:
-Expensive
-Pass 90 days and you break it, you are effed
-Extensive replacement process
-Questionable % donated to charity?

Purchase links:
bkr Official Site