Thursday, May 30, 2013

*May Mantry Review*

Hey guys!

It has been 80* all week here in Wasilla & we have been loving it! It's hard to believe that just a couple weeks ago we were experiencing a mini-blizzard. I have to literally force myself to take time to come inside & write blog posts. We have a wonderful porch that I would blog from if only I could see my screen in the brightness from the sunshine! I'm actually tossing around the idea of doing some vlogs over on my youtube channel...we shall see. :)
When Justin was home on r&r he was able to open his April & May MANTRY boxes within the same week. So let's check out what was in his May crate.

 Smoke and Whiskey.
May's MANTRY Loot.
The globe in the background was not in the crate, it was Justin's when he was a kid & his mom had dropped it off before we opened the crate so I just used it in the background. :)

Woodford Reserve Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette($10.00) Louisville, KY
Our household can never have too many salad dressings, I have really started to love making my own concoctions but there are a few staples that we purchase still. This dressing made quite the impression on mine & Justin's taste buds last weekend, we used over half the bottle! It is safe to say that we will be loving this dressing featuring pure Kentucky sorghum syrup that has been cultivated in family mills since the 1850's, for a very long time. The Woodford Reserve site has some other sauces that I'm sure will become staples for all of our summer BBQ & camping trips.

Bourbon Smoked Peppercorns ($9.00) Louisville, KY
These peppercorns were slowly smoked by Matt Jamie who uses Bourbon Barrel Staves to bring a wispy hint of smoky flavor into an everyday necessity. MANTRY suggests making an arugula salad, paired with freshly grated bourbon smoked peppercorns & Bourbon Sorghum Vinaigrette with a side of crusty bread, I think it is a dinner recommendation we will be using very, very soon.

Natural Summer Sausage (2 pack $13.95) Hinesburg, VT
If there is one thing that is an absolute MUST HAVE on our families snacking list it is summer sausage or some form of jerky. We pack it in our backpacks for snowmachining & keep it on hand all summer long for road trips & camping adventures. Currently, thanks to MANTRY we have quite the stash! Justin & are both very conscious about the meat we purchase & talk constantly about how we wish we could raise our own pork & cattle, so when someone like Chris Bailey comes along & makes small batches of summer sausage using natural meats we buy in bulk! I will have to spend some time on the Vermont Smoke & Cure site to select things & find out the total shipping costs to AK.

Bourbon Marshmallows ($7.50) Orlando, FL
We are lovers of gourmet marshmallows! At our wedding we featured about 15 different flavors from 240 Sweet, unfortunately there was a fire ban in WI at the time, so our guests didn't get to enjoy them. :( We had a campfire a couple days later at my moms & feasted on s'more after s'more. Justin & I had to make a promise to each other that after we each tried one of these Wondermade mallows we would pack them away until our first camping trip. I'm having a hard time not eating all of them while he is gone! While I don't think there is a strong bourbon flavor, they are a really sweet, delicious marshmallow & maybe the bourbon flavor will come out when they are roasted. Wondermade currently has a Father's Day set for $25 that features bourbon, maple-bacon, coffee & Guinness flavors, if you want to test out some gourmet marshmallows yourself get yours here!! 

 Salted Bourbon Goat's Milk Caramel ($9.95) Brookfield, VT
During the summer time I love to make ice cream with the kids & one of our favorite toppings is of course caramel. I thought I had tried all of the unique caramel sauces there were, but goat's milk?? We do enjoy goats milk, yogurt & cheese but the caramel was something completely unexpected. In Brookfield, VT there is a family raising goats, milking them, & then standing over copper pots for hours to make this dulce de leche. Of course they just had to add some bourbon & sea salt, just to push the deliciousness over the edge. We will be spooning this over some homemade vanilla ice cream in the weeks to come. :)

Bourbon Nut Brittle ($12.99) Nashville, TN
Justin claimed this little package the second he saw it. Personally, I adore the vintage style packaging. He'll eat the brittle, I'll find a way to re-purpose the box. It's a win-win. :) Down in Nashville Scotty Witherow has a Southern Chocolate Shop named Olive & Sinclair that is making all kinds of unique sweets like this brittle. Nashville has always been on our places to visit list, now we have a sweet stop to make when we are there. 

The total of everything in this month's MANTY is $56.44, while that doesn't add up to the monthly $75 price tag, we were still really excited about all of the products. One thing about living in AK is that sometimes, new, unique luxury food items are hard to come by, we love receiving our MANTRY crates & trying new products. Even the kids get excited when Justin opens a new crate each month. This Smoke and Whiskey theme was a perfect combination of savory & sweet & I know that we have found some new companies that we will be purchasing from in the future. 

If you want to recieve your own box of culinary delights each month click here.

This month MANTRY has partnered with VICE to give away a total of 5 prize packs that include this month's MANTRY crate as well as a 1 year subscription to VICE. Enter here.

as always,

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

***POPSUGAR Monthly Must Have for May 2013***

Hey guys!

I hope you all had an amazing Memorial Day Weekend. We spent the long weekend taking care of some yard work & soaking up the sunshine. Of course we wouldn't be able to enjoy such a wonderful & productive weekend without the honorable service from the members of our US Military Branches. I just want to say thank you & let you know that my family appreciates all that you have done & will do. :) 

Now...onto the POPSUGAR Monthly Must Have Box for May! I was more excited opening this box than I have been for any subscription box in months.

This months spectacular collection, minus two items that just wouldn't cooperate in the photo.

Way Better Snacks Simply Sweeet Potato Tortilla Chips ($20.94 for 6)
These tortilla chips were this months special extra, I haven't tried them yet but I'm sure they will be the perfect summer snack. What kind of salsa goes well with sweet potato chips though?

Pacifica Natural Color Quench Lip Tint in Guava Berry ($6.99)
I had no idea that this Pacifica Lip Tint was 100% vegan! I really love the shade that I got, I'm not sure if it smells like guava, because I'm not even sure I know what actually guava smells like. :) The packaging of this product is so detailed & beautiful it's amazing that it is not a high end brand & you can find it at Target! 

The Original BeautyBlender & BlenderCleanser($23.95)
I literally squealed out loud when I saw this! My current beautyblender that was in a birchbox months ago has gotten a little, well loved. I had actually been thinking about ordering a new one for myself this summer, but then POPSUGAR came through with not only the beautyblender but the blendercleanser too! This is the travel size package, so the blender itself is a bit smaller than the one from birchbox. 

 Kooringal Giselle Mid Brim Hat ($27.99)
I adore this hat! I have been wearing it every single day since I got it! It is the perfect accessory for working out in our yard & lounging on our porch. I will be taking this hat with me on every single camping trip this summer. The entire hat is crushable & durable, so I will be able to pack it in anything! The brim is also adjustable which makes wearing a sun hat so efforless & chic. Mine is a grey color & I think other people black or olive colored ones, personally I'm super thrilled I got grey. :) 

The Modern Cocktail-Modern Margaritas (On Sale $7.59)
Margaritas & I, we have a very wonderful connection. We are so close that I have burned through 3 blenders in the last 2 years mixing up my own blended versions. With flavors like blood orange & mango I thought that this would be a hit! I mixed up a cocktail this weekend during a BBQ with some friends, & I have to say...the size of the cocktail one of these makes is so teeny, tiny that I had to mix the watermelon & authentico flavors together. It tasted amazing but I wanted more! :)  I do think these would be a perfect hostess gift for summer parties or as a house warming gift. There are also other varieties, including a few zero calorie ones on the modern cocktails site.

POPSUGAR Reusable Bag
This bag is not of the greatest quality, but I can live with that because it will be perfect for drugstore beauty supply shopping! 

Charm & Chain $30 Gift Card
I had never heard of Charm & Chain until this month, but I have never met an accessories site that I didn't like. There is not a single item on the site for $30 or less, so I'm going to have to spend some $$$ if I want to use the card. Luckily it doesn't expire until December 31, 2013 so I will have time to pick something out. 

Questions I Ask When I Want To Talk About Myself($12.95)
I'm pretty sure Mindy & I were separated at birth. There are some crazy similarities between the most embarrassing & awkward parts of our lives. I literally looked at Justin when I opened this & said "Anything with this Indian woman on it, is a perfect gift." He just laughed & reminded me how much I lack in the subtle department. Anyway, I can't wait to bust these out when we are camping this summer. 

 May POPSUGAR Box Total-$87.96 without the Charm & Chain Card.
Subscription Cost= $35

Not only was this my favorite POPSUGAR box ever, it was worth over twice the cost of the monthly subscription! If you are interested in getting your own lifestyle box each month click here! I'm so excited to see what the June & July boxes will have. :) 
as always,

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The May Eco-Emi Fairy Sent Me...

...lots of wonderful products perfect for summer! From the lovely Christine at Eco Emi, "The May box is a blend of products from awesome new companies as well as products from some of my favorite staples, enjoy!." The theme for this month is KICK OFF TO SUMMER!

Here's what was inside the little priority box of sunshine! 

 Suncoat Girl Nail Polish in Apple Blossom $7.99
A water based nail polish? Am I the only one who didn't know such a thing existed??It is odor free & releases water vapor when applied. There are a total of 16 shades available on the sungirl site, some of them are 100% vegan as well. I probably won't use this polish a ton for myself but it is a shade that the girls will love this summer. 

Lauren Brooke Cosmetics-Powder Eyeshadow in Pink Champagne $9.00
Lauren Brooke Cosmetics is a frequent repeat brand with Eco-Emi. Usually there are eye product samples or in this case a full size powder, so having it be a reoccurring brand doesn't bother me. The shadows themselves are all natural & preservative free. If you have sensitive eyes these are great! As you can see in the photo the pigmentation isn't too spectacular, but they are amazing if you are looking for a more subtle look. Available in matte, shimmer, sparkle & mystic. You can even order sample sizes from the Lauren Brooke website for $1.40!

 Eco Lips-Mongo Kiss Honey Vanilla Lip Balm $1.99
This lip balm smells soooooo good!!! If honey-vanilla isn't your thing it is also available in unscented, peppermint & pomegranate. The Mongongo Oil is sourced from a rural village in Zambia, Africa. It is USDA Organic, Fair Trade Certified, GMO & Gluten Free. This is one of my favorite things I have received in any of my Eco-Emi boxes!

AquaSport SPF 30 Sunscreen $12.99 for 3oz
I had never heard of AquaSport before this & I'm excited to give it a try. This sample size 5mL is really small when it comes to something you apply onto your skin, especially since I would really like to try it out on the kids. AquaSport is proven effective after 80 minutes in the water & it is also sweat resistant. 

Seaweed Powder Bath with Hawaiian Kukui Oil:Lavender Scent $3.98
I have not had the best luck with the other Seaweed Bath Co products I have received in my other Eco-Emi boxes, plus this one is Lavender Scented...combine those two things with my extreme addiction to LUSH bath products & I probably won't be getting to excited to use this. The kids have been taking a lot of nighttime baths lately & this will be great for that. 

Athena Bars-Pomegranate $22.68 for 12 bars
Athena Bars are another great repeat brand with Eco-Emi. All of the greek yogurt flavors I have gotten previously were great so I'm sure this one will be too. :)

Suncoat-Vegan Natural Mascara 10mL $14.99
With a $14.99 price tag this mascara borders on high end price territory, I haven't had a chance to use it's going to take a pretty spectacular mascara to break me away from my Physicians Formula Organic Wear. 

All Terrain Herbal Armor Insect Repellent 4oz $8.99
All Terrain is the same brand that makes the Aqua Sport sunscreen & this is another 5mL sample. Mosquitoes are horrible during the summer here in AK, so any little bit of DEET free bug insect repellent is a welcome addition to our bug bite free arsenal.

Beauty without Cruelty-Rosemary Mine Tea Tree Shampoo 2oz $2.99
I started on a sodium laurel sulfate free shampoo hair journey back in 2011 & I have actually used this exact shampoo a couple of times. Tea tree products aren't my favorite when it comes to shampoos & conditioners, a really strong scent lingers after your hair is dry & it isn't a good one (at least to me)! I will throw this in the box of stuff that is going to be put in our travel trailer for use this summer. 

This month's Eco-Emi box had 7 full size products & 3 that are actually considered sample sizes by the manufactures. Although there were a couple that I was not super excited about the rest of them totally make up for that! If you are interested in signing up for your own box of exo-chic products every month click here.

Now, I have a DISASTER of a kitchen to deal with & a Mt. McKinley size mountain of laundry to get finished. I really do not enjoy housework during the winter, but this week the sun has been shinning so brightly I have had a hard time staying inside & cleaning. Today is the day that I will ignore the warmth & just clean, clean, clean. :)

as always,

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Alaska Weekend Getaway with Justin!

Hey guys!

Justin & I decided when he had been gone for about a month that when he was finally home we were going to go on a mini Alaska getaway. Little did we realize that he wouldn't be home for about a MONTH after that first getaway conversation & that a getaway wasn't just a luxury we wanted, it was a weekend our relationship needed.
There have been a bunch of stressful factors in our lives over the course of the last year & especially within the later part of 2012. We made it through all of it, from my stress rash outbreaks (gross, I know!), to 3 attempts to close on our home (probate, FHA complications...ect!), basically headaches upon arguments, upon sleepless nights. At the end of it all we had to just take some deep breaths, laugh at all of the craziness & remind ourselves that we are still just newlyweds trying to figure out the life we are beginning to build for our family. It's easy to forget with the combination of out of town work schedules, passing away of beloved family members & of course trying to do what is best for our kids (yes they are my step-children....3 of them are with us here in AK & his oldest lives in CO with her mother, someday I may share some details of how it's all ended up this way, maybe). So, that brings us to deciding that we needed to do something just for us. We didn't want to travel too far or spend a ton on one weekend, so we planned to spend one night in Anchorage & another in Girdwood.
My amazing friend Amanda was willing to watch our 3 little monsters at our house all weekend. I'm a complete worrier when it comes to who they are staying with, how long they will be there & if they are freaking out about freaking out! Luckily, she was also willing to stay at our house all weekend with the kids, which put mine & Justin's mind at rest. We were able to call the kids each night before bed & Amanda texted us a constant stream of text & videos of them. She is my bestie after all, so she of course knows how much I stress about leaving them for 2 hours, let alone 2 nights & 3 days!!!
Anyway...I'm rambling....
We left for Anchorage at about 4PM on Friday & checked into our room at the Sheraton in Anchorage. The hotel itself is beautiful on the interior & has a spa, 2 restaurants & a bar. I didn't take any pictures inside the hotel itself or at all on Friday night. :( Justin picked Benihana's as the restaurant for dinner that night. It was the perfect choice as we love hibachi style meals & sake. I really wish I had taken photos of the food as it was being prepared & on our plates. I ordered the Ocean Trio & Justin ordered a combo of steak & shrimp. The lobster tail may have been the best seafood I have ever tasted! Delicious! I would highly recommend a Benihana's or any hibachi style restaurant near you for special occasions or celebrations. :) After Benihana's we went out for a few drinks & called it a pretty early night in our hotel.
Saturday morning we slept in & made our way to Snow City Cafe for brunch. I have to admit that my choice of Snow City Cafe had little do with food & alot to do with ak starfish having a store next door. I absolutely love Marci's designs & her sweatshirts are my favorite! Due to some unfortunate circumstances (stealing babysitter, grr...) my bright pink zip-up hoodie is no longer in my closet & I have really missed it. So, I went to ak starfish while Justin was waiting for our table & I got myself a teal zip-up hoodie & a bright pink t-shirt, both with the ak starfish design. We are actually thinking of doing family photos with all of in ak starfish designs, Justin & Nikoli really like the salmon design shirts & of course the girls adore their starfish tees. Back to Snow City Cafe!

 As you can see Snow City Cafe has been voted "best breakfast" in Anchorage since 2003. I had wanted to check it out for years, but their average weekend wait for a table is about 45 minutes. With 3 kids that's about 45 minutes of pure parent patience testing that I would most likely fail. I wanted to scope the cafe out for my own restaurant research as my business plan is bit similar.

To make the wait for a table more bearable they have a wonderful little coffee station with all of the cup of joe essentials. You can order mocha's, lattes, smoothies & other drinks while you wait too. Of course I had to include a picture of my favorite brunch companion, my husband. ;) He was so thrilled about the bunny mug! 

When it comes to breakfast/brunch I like 3 things...Eggs Benedict, Pancakes & French Toast. While all 3 options have great classic styles, I prefer mine with a little spunk & a splash of wow. So when I saw that one of the specials was this Lemon Ricotta filled French Toast topped with a berry coulis & served with raspberry butter I knew I had found my meal. Justin ordered the traditional french toast. I really enjoyed mine, Justin looked at me halfway through his & said "I like yours better." Ladies my man knows his way to my heart. ;) 

After brunch we went to the 5th Avenue Mall so I could do some shopping. I didn't take any photos there, but I did make purchases at GAP, The Body Shop & Sephora. Maybe a haul video is in order. :)  Now, onto Girdwood!

 I instagramed this picture on our drive to the Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood. Yes, this was taken on May 18th 2013, not in November or December. It really was a beautiful scene & made the whole drive feel like we were in a magical winter wonderland. 

We had an AMAZING dinner at The Double Musky Inn. I have been cooking meals out of their cookbook for years but had never made it to the restaurant itself. I was able to snap a couple photos of my drink, the Almond Joy. The one of the left I posted on instagram, with the caption "If I were a drink this would be me." Which is 100% the truth. I love Alaska because I can order a hot cocoa type drink all year long! Of course I forgot to take pictures of our food & the Double Musky itself, but sometimes you just have to leave technology out of it & just enjoy the experience. :) 

After dinner we went back to the hotel & enjoyed a couple of hours in the hot tub & sauna. It was such a nice relaxing atmosphere with the snow capped mountains & trees in the background. We actually spent over an hour just sitting on lounge chairs talking & laughing about when we first met & all of the random things we have learned about each other over the years. I feel so blessed to have been able to have met Justin & to have his children become the center of my life. Sitting there & talking with him that night I really felt a renewed sense of promise & future for our little family, something I had been losing sight of amongst all the chaos. 
Then we went back to our room & tried to watch SNL....we actually ended up talking alot about our favorite SNL skits from earlier seasons. I of course had to bring Gilly (portrayed by Kristen Wigg) into it & spent over a half an hour doing my best impression of her. Sorry. We fell asleep around 11PM, real hardcore party people we are! We had even purchased some wine & beer to drink that night...not a single bottle was opened. 
We slept in the next morning, skipped breakfast & went on a walk around & inside the hotel. It was full of Princess/Holland American Tourist Guests. We are not anti-AK tourists, I spent 2 years working a job that was centered around them & experience mildly traumatic flashbacks every time I pass one in a hotel hallway! We made quite a few purchases from the gift shop. Plush stuffed bears for each of the kids, bar drinking glasses & shot glasses for the AK themed bar we plan to put in downstairs next winter. I of course had to get Amanda a t-shirt as a thank you for watching the little monsters all weekend. 
This is the Hotel at Alyeska. There was still a bit of snow on the ground on Sunday morning but it was really warm out & the sun was shining so beautifully! There's Justin, wearing our F-22 Recovery Project Sweatshirt, we both spent a summer working on the project together. I should put together a post about it one of these days!

Justin knew the whole tourist overload was starting to make me a little cray-cray. So he loaded everything up in the truck & look me on a gorgeous mid-morning drive towards Seward. It is one of my favorite drives in Alaska & we went as far as the tunnel to Whittier before we turned around. 

Along our drive. These were both taken with my iPhone 4s, in the same stretch of road. We have a go-pro, a Canon digital, a Olympus digital & a Canon 35mm...all of which we packed & then forgot at home. :( 

 One of the Alaska Trains. Justin wants to take the train to Seward for our Anniversary & I think it will be another wonderful weekend. 

We headed towards home after our relaxing drive & I ended up getting a horrible migraine. :( Amanda had taken the kids to a movie so I was able to take a bath & lay down for a bit. My migraine subsided after about 5 hours, I was able to make dinner & we listened to the kids tell stories about their weekend & they asked us a billion questions about ours. It was such a nice, simple, peaceful weekend....just what we needed. Now it's back to preparing our travel trailer, boat & other gear for lots of summer camping adventures! 

**PS. I know this post was realllllly long so thank you to all of you who stuck with it & read the entire thing. I had initially planned to break it up into 2 posts, but then I was a ding-ding about taking pictures throughout the entire weekend. :(***


***We scored an AMAZING Groupon Deal for our stay at Alyeska. If you or someone you know are looking for deals in Alaska during your vacation, be sure to check out Groupon! Just search for the city you are wanting to experience & go from there. :)***

Thanks for reading this long windy-rambly post about our weekend! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ipsy May 2013!!!

hey guys!

I'm so anxious & ready for summer to arrive here in Alaska. Today things are looking rather gloomy & grey & I've found myself daydreaming of a tropical getaway during my spare moments. Justin & I are going on a mini-vacay this weekend. It is only to Anchorage & Girdwood, which are not tropical by any means but I still feel like it is going to be the refreshing, fun & relaxing weekend we need before all of our summer adventures & projects begin.
Luckily my by you bag arrived this week, so I have a few great-getaway perfect products to use during the weekend. :) ipsy is $10 a month & you will receive 5-6 different products(alot of them are full size!), as well as a cute little make-up bag that matches the month's theme. So, lets check out what was in my ipsy bag for May! by you
MAY 2013
*Spring Fling*

 St. Tropez Instant Glow Body Lotion 
Friends have been telling me to invest in St. Tropez self tanning products for years. Snow White & I are skin twins! Personally, I have been a loyal Jergens Self-Tanner user since middle school, but I was thrilled to get this sample this month! I have been trying to work up the courage to try it before we leave tomorrow for our weekend getaway, but I have a fear of ending up splotchy or orange! Not to mention 1.69 oz probably won't get the job done for my entire body! I think I will go to Sephora this weekend & look at the entire St. Tropez line. A full size retails for $18

Mirabella Lipstick in Pixie $22
When I first opened this lipstick to swatch it I was expecting it to be a bright, very pigmented, coral color. It is actually very sheer, but build-able & the pigmentation isn't as bright as I assumed it would be. I checked it out on Mirabella's website & it is actually one of the colors in their colour sheers line, which is basically a high end version of the Maybelline color whispers. There are 14 colors to choose from & all of them are made with mango butter & are lead & paraben free.

ZOYA Nail Polish-Piaf $8
I have quite a few ZOYA polishes in my collection, they are one of my top 5 polish brands & I have yet to be disappointed in a polish from them. I got the shade Piaf in this month's ipsy, it is a metallic yellow shade. Usually, I'm not a yellow polish person, this will be the 3rd in my collection ever! It is a pretty light color & I think it will be fun for the summer! Plus my girls were really excited about it! According to ZOYA it was created as a custom runway shade for the designer Zang Toi.

Juice Beauty-Lipgloss in FIG $15
Juice Beauty is a popular brand amongst the subscription box services...I have had it as a repeat brand in both my birchbox & ipsy. It has also made an appearance in my POPSUGAR. In no way am I complaining, I have yet to be disappointed in a product or receive a product that I haven't used from Juice Beauty! This was my first makeup item from the brand & I think it is a gorgeous lip gloss! It is a reflecting gloss that is packed with a ton of shine power & a combination of antioxidant-rich berries, minerals & sweet agave. It has a sweet smell to it & doesn't have a weird product taste either. There are 3 other shades available right now besides the FIG shade that I now have. :)

yaby concealer refill in buff $4.85
This for me was the most underwhelming product of the bunch. I feel like finding a concealer that works for your skin is such a personal thing & it really takes a lot to find one that is a match in color, coverage, performance & wear. However, I gave this a little trial run yesterday, I had minimal errands to run later in the day & wore this in my blemished areas. I would not recommend it as an under eye concealer, but for covering up some minimal skin issues it worked just fine. yaby is another repeat brand from ipsy, this concealer was much more impressive than the eye-shadows received in the past. :)

Here is the bag. Just wanted to let you all see it on it's own. It's actually my favorite bag so far from ipsy. I really like the chevron stripe print & the fun spring fling colors! :) It has teal on it, so you know I had to mention it!

That wraps up this month's ipsy products. Some people did receive a Pacifica Roller Ball Perfume or a Macadamia Hair Treatment or other colors of the Zoya Polish & Mirabella Lip Sheer. I would of preferred the Macadamia Treatment over the Zoya Polish, but really I can't complain because I know I will use everything I received! If you want to get your own little bag of beauty bliss in the mail each month click here to sign up! 

Hope you all are having a wonderful month of May & I will be sure to post a review on all of the other subscription boxes I recieve in the mail this month! Thanks guys!

as always-

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

April Mantry Review....FINALLY!

Hey guys!

I know I gave you plenty of warning that April's MANTRY review was going to be quite delayed due to Justin being gone for the last 7 weeks. Well...he came home yesterday!!! Naturally, one of the first things I made him do was open the damn crate. It had been staring at me in my office for 3 weeks! How in the world I didn't open the thing, we will never know! Even Justin was surprised that everything was still wrapped & tucked away inside the wooden box! Without making you wait any longer, here are the contents of the APRIL 2013 MANTRY, the modern man's pantry, of course.

This months cast of characters. 
6 Products from 5 OUTSTANDING Restaurants in America
In May, The James Beard Awards (aka. the Oscars for food) showcases some of the top chefs & restaurants in America. Mantry brings you six can't miss products from past winners & nominees. 

Buttermilk & Sage Brined Fried Chicken Mix $14 (Walden TN)
According to MANTRY's literature this month; Blackberry Farm has a butchery, a brewery, a creamery, several gardens & two restaurants on site. It is a culinary compound in the foothills of Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. I spent a summer volunteering with SCA in the Big South For River & Recreation Area which neighbors the Smoky's, if only I had known that Blackberry Farm was in existence I probably would of given up my back-country living for fried chicken, then again probably not...I was a strict vegetarian back then. Justin & I have talked about taking the kids back to where I spent a summer clearing trail & writing dozens of poems about rain, river water & mountains full of lush beauty....looks like we will have to add Blackberry Farms to our list on the adventure. Until then we will be making fried chicken with this mix.

Sweet Potato Habanero Sauce $8.50 (New Orleans LA)
Chefs Donals Link & Stephen Stryjewski have the Louisiana culinary scene covered from gumbo to crawfish pie...why haven't I packed up the family & moved to the South yet? Seriously. This is a unique sauce with a sweet potato heat. We have added it to our current hot sauce collection which will soon be moved into our travel trailer for summer camping adventures. Until then this flaming pig will have us wonder what happens when you mix sweet potatoes & habanero???

SOM Drinking Vinegar $15 (Portland TN)
Justin's reaction when he opened this was perfect! He read the label, handed it to me & said "here this one is all yours." Considering that I use straight white vinegar as a salad dressing...he's probably right. I had to do a little research into what tamarind was though. It is the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree that once only grew in West Africa. Now it can be found in South-East Asia, India & the West Indies. The pods of the fruit have a bittersweet pulp that is used to make sauces, chutneys & jams. It's in Worcestershire! I'm still going to have to find a recipe for a cocktail to use this in, our camping trips are going to be quite hip this summer. If tamarind isn't your thing they also have raspberry, pineapple, pomegranate & other more conventional flavors. 

 Smoked Onion Jam $13 (Walden TN)
MANTRY returned to Blackberry Farms for this addition to the April box. Six products, 5 outstanding restaurants...remember? This jam is made with a slow cooked combo of smoked Georgia vidalia onions, sherry vinegar & benne seeds(sesame seeds). Even though it is a jam, it is a perfect condiment for burgers & grilling out this summer.

Pork Rub-Hastings Creations $12 (Birmingham TN
"Chef Chris Hastings is celebrated for bringing modern refinement to Southern ingredients." He won the 2012 JB Award for Best Chef South, due in part to his collaboration working with local farmers & gulf fisherman. This is his house blend rub that has a smoky flavor perfect for ribs, fish tacos & so on... We actually do not eat a ton of pork, but when we do this will be our go to.

Acorn Borsellino Salami $11 (Norwalk IA)
MANTRY introduced this dry cured salami with this- Paul Kahan, a five time James Beard Outstanding Chef nominee and the man behind the likes of Chicago's Avec, Blackbird and the Publican shares one of his favorite artisan meat producers in America.
"La Quercia is simply the best American cured ham. I met Herb Eckhouse before he was selling commercially at a farmers market in Iowa and have been supporting him ever since. He uses the finest raw ingredients to make the best cured ham." -Paul Kahan
I wanted to share what exactly was featured in the MANTRY literature this month because it really gives a good background for the selection of this salami for this month's collection & also, it gave me an infusion of inspiration for my own restaurant concept & where I want to be with it in 5 years. If someone can go from selling his goods at a farmers market to being a contender for a James Beard Award & being featured in a MANTRY collection, I can get there too. :) 

There you have it! April 2013 MANTRY. If you are interested in receiving your own box of culinary excitement each month head over to MANTRY. Ladies, it may be called the modern man's pantry,  that doesn't mean it's gender exclusive. Anyone with a passion for food & an interest in expanding their taste buds will love this subscription service. It is $75 a month & all the products come in a wooden crate. You want one. Just think of all of the pinterest projects you can accomplish with a collection of wooden crates & empty hot sauce bottles. ;) 

MANTRY & Blackberry Farms are doing a giveaway for a $6,000 luxury stay at Blackberry Farm. Including; 3 night stay in the award winning hotel & tuition for 2 at their renowned cooking school! If you want to enter just go to  I'm not sure how long it is open for, but I do know that you can get extra entries for liking MANTRY & Blackberry Farm on Facebook. :) 



Monday, May 13, 2013

Pictures of Life Lately. :)

Life has been moving so quickly lately, probably because I have been counting down the moments, crossing off days on the calendar, trying to be patient until Justin was able to come home. Ice Road Season has ended & his plane ticket has been booked! In 24 hours my husband will be home! The kids are equally excited, usually we do not tell them of return dates in case things change (as they often do), this time since it has been so long we decided they should share in the fun of counting down. All day they have been singing, yelling, shouting... "Tuesday is tomorrow! Daddy comes home tomorrow! 24 hours to Daddy!" Their positive excitement makes me so happy & it melts my heart to see how joyous they become about Justin coming home.

Anyway...I thought I would share some pictures of life over the last few weeks. I often forget to bring a camera with me, besides my iPhone 4s... so I really have missed some of the moments I wish I could of captured. We are planning on going camera shopping sometime soon, hopefully I won't forget to capture moments then. :) 

This was actually taken at our friends wedding on St. Patrick's Day. It was such a fun day, the entire wedding took place at the Palmer Ice Rink. We watched as our friends, who met playing hockey exchanged vows in the center of the ice & then had a face off before being officially pronounced husband & wife. We ended the celebration with delicious cupcakes & ice skating. Somewhere in the middle of all of this the photographer from Relic Photography got the kids to pose. I want to get this photo & others from the wedding printed & framed. :)

My AVON Haul. I ordered some products for myself to try out. Some of them I had really like back in 2008 when I was an AVON/mark rep. Pictured here are the cream shadows, spring fling lip balms, imark shadows, lip gloss, mark lip stain, Moroccan Argan oil, jumbo eye cream crayon, smooth minerals blush. Don't worry I will be reviewing all of them soon! If you want to check them out before then just head over to AVON & mark with Sadie Leader.

Remember the little fluffy white puppy? He is growing so fast! Since we aren't 100% sure of his breed beyond American Eskimo we do not know what to expect for his exact size. Luckily he still likes to snuggle with me..which I hope he still does when he is full grown.

This is the relationship I have with Siri. Also, my phone is always on the verge of being battery dead. Always. 

My mini-fashionista, Miss Lilliana Marie. We had a beautiful day full of warm weather & sunshine. My latest Stella & Dot order arrived & this beautiful Palm Springs-Turquoise Ikat Print Scarf was one of the items in the order. I was so excited to finally have it because it had been sold out for over a month! Lilliana fell in love with it as quickly as I did so I snapped some pictures. 

My very first Stella & Dot Trunk Show. Hosted by Jessica at Arctic Baby Bottoms! The show is still open to shop online at Sadie Leader

 Justin sent me these gorgeous flowers last week. They were a total surprise for me & a beautiful gesture from him because he wasn't able to be home for Mother's Day. They are still this vibrant today & have really brightened up our kitchen. 

Yesterday we went with Justin's family to Settler's Bay for a Mother's Day brunch. This was the only photo I had time to snap before we sat down to eat. The kids had a great time & were completely shocked by all of the choices they had for food, I took each of them through the line individually so they could really think & make choices about what they wanted. We ended the day watching some movies & taking a nap at home. It was a nice, relaxing Mother's Day. :)

Inside of these pretty wraps are some wonderful LUSH products that I ordered last week. The package arrived today & inside were some of my old favorites & new products that I'm sure I will love. If you would like to see my last LUSH review click here. I will be posting a haul/review of everything inside the wraps sometime soon. :)

Well...there are some photos from life around here lately. I have some really exciting things happening over the next couple weeks & I'm even going to try & use Justin's go-pro cam to film some vlogs for my youtube channel! Stay tuned & thanks for checking out this blog!

as always,