Friday, June 27, 2014

Wunkle Wednesday, Friday-Style

Since I'm failing at this "posting the Wednesday thing on Wednesday" business, I figured I should choose a Friday-appropriate photo of Munky Wunkle. He's generally a pretty well-behaved little guy, but every so often, he has one of those weekends where he winds up worshipping the porcelain god. What can I say? He can't hold his liquor.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Thursday Three: Lip Balm Edition

So I'm thinking that if I include more weekly features on this blog, it will force me to start posting more regularly. In that vein, I'm introducing "The Thursday Three," a weekly round-up of three... somethings. Really, this will encompass pretty much anything that I can neatly corral into sets of three, probably with a focus on my favorites in any given category. I think I can stick with this, because at the very least, I can surely come up with a weekly list of three items even if I don't elaborate about them at length, right?

For this first Thursday Three, we're going to delve into my plethora of lip balms. Lip balm is one product that I can't function without, and I feel like I'm constantly on the prowl for my "holy grail" product. My lips tend to chap, especially in the winter, and I  can't stand the feeling or the look of dry, icky lips. At any given time, I've probably got at least five lip balms in rotation between my makeup drawer, my purse, and work. Minimum. Along the way, I've stumbled across a few products that really made me happy, so I'm sharing them with you!

I stumbled across this drugstore gem while on vacation in Florida, and I just adore it. It's the most "traditional" balm of the bunch, a twist-up solid stick, nothing special about the packaging. This balm's got a couple of things going for it that distinguish it from the glut of similar stick balms, though... first, the high SPF, which I dig. You see, not only do I want to protect my lips from the sun, I also have a relatively recent and large scar on my left leg that requires extra sun protection if I want it to fade as much as possible over time. So because I am kind of tacky, I have been known to use this product on my scar too; I feel like it's more effective than traditional sunscreen because the waxiness of it clings to the scar area longer, especially on the beach or in the water!

The other thing that I really love about this lip balm is the FLAVOR. It smells like the most delicious tropical sunscreen, which alone would have made me like it, but it also tastes amazing... like a fruity, delicious piña colada or some other tropical drink that would come with a little paper umbrella. The flavor lasts a good while, too, unlike a lot of products that lose their flavor rapidly after application. As far as moisturizing my lips, it does a perfectly fine job; I mean, I don't feel like angels are dancing on my lips or anything, but it's more than adequate in the dryness-prevention department. The only complaint I have about this product is that it's hard to find in stores here in my landlocked state... so I stocked up when I went back to the beach a few months later! (It's readily available online, though, and I'm just a brat about paying shipping charges.) 

I received this item back in my January Ipsy bag, which was full of skincare products that I thought would be totally boring. Boy, was I wrong! I ended up really digging the contents of that bag, especially this lip balm! The squeezy tube is super-nondescript, although I grudgingly guess I get the hipster vibe they're going for with the design. To my eye, though, it just looks medicinal, like a tube of antibiotic ointment... not like something epic to put on your face, which is what it actually is. I also hate that the application surface is a flat top instead of a more lip-friendly angled or rounded one, but honestly, I usually end up applying with my finger anyway.

Once opened, the product itself also looks pretty underwhelming at first glance: a clear, kind of thin-seeming gel formula. Don't be fooled, though, because it turns into moisturizing awesomeness on the lips. It leaves a nice little hint of shine and lasts a really long time. The only reason this lip balm isn't at the top of the list: the flavor (or lack thereof). It's perfectly fine, but it's just a very subtle and short-lived hint of mint, with none of the lime tartness that I'd expect from something named "mojito." Step up the flavor game, Malin+Goetz, and I'll de-throne my current #1 for you.

I've actually already reviewed this delightful product once on this blog, but it more than deserves another shout-out, because it's earned the top spot on my list and in my makeup bag. I don't want to repeat myself ad nauseum, so you can clicky-clicky here to read that full review, or you can just stick around and roll with my CliffsNotes. Pros: ginormous size for the very reasonable price, smells and tastes like orgasmic syrupy waffle-y deliciousness, moisturizing as all get-out, swanky packaging. Cons: um, the tin can be a little hard to open sometimes? Recommendation: GET SOME, and check out TokyoMilk's other flavors while you're at it.

So there you have it, folks: my first Thursday Three. If you're actually a real, live human being who is actually reading my blog, please leave me a little feedback or a suggestion on what categories you might like to see me tackle. I'd welcome the challenge (and the confirmation that someone actually sees this crap I write)!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wunkle Wednesday(-ish): Lake Treasure!

So I was just making potato salad to take on my upcoming weekend trip to the lake with my wolfpack, and I realized I'd forgotten to post a Wunkle Wednesday photo. Eh, I'm only two hours late in Eastern time, and it's still Wednesday on the West Coast... it could be worse. Anyway, given that this lake trip is why I was late, I figured a lake photo of Wunkle would be appropriate for today!

"Looky what I found!"
We were wandering along at water's edge, and found a patch of shale bits that were just perfect for skipping on the water. While my human companion and I competed at skipping rocks (with me failing miserably, as usual), Wunkle stumbled across an arrowhead at water's edge! At first we thought it must be just an arrowhead-shaped piece of shale, given that there was quite a bit of shale in the vicinity, but on closer inspection, you can still see the marks of the human effort that went into shaping it. Lucky little munky, finding such a cool souvenir of our trip!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mini Mani Review: Rainbow Honey "Petit Four"

Another day off, another polish job... this time, it's Rainbow Honey's "Petit Four" from the May Mystery Bag. Of the three polishes included in the bag, this was the only one I was sure I'd love. I really like the look of these "milky" polishes, how the layers of glitter create depth in them, and I love happy yellow shades, so I was pre-sold on this creamy yellow color with pink, red, and teal matte glitter bits.

It's like candy on my nails... only, y'know, not edible.
I apologize for the photo... I found this polish extremely hard to photograph! Bright indoor light, outdoor sunlight, I tried it all... most attempts at photographing it washed the yellow out and made it look pretty flat. This shot, indirect light from a window, is the closest approximation I could get. If I'm going to stick with this, I guess I'll have to come up with a light box or some sort of better set-up for these shots. (Maybe once I know I've got enough readers to make the expense and effort worthwhile... hint hint, clue clue, please drop me a comment if you stop by so I know I'm not just typing to myself!)

My one complaint about this polish is that I found it clumpy and hard to work with. In all fairness, I am pretty new to the realm of indie glitters like this, so I don't know how much of this is due to my noob status. I've heard that there can be a bit of a learning curve in terms of working with these types of polishes, so I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, and I could see myself buying it in the future if Rainbow Honey does end up adding it to their line-up. Anyway... the yellow was kind of sheer, and took three coats to build to opacity; I think next time I might try it with a yellow base so it doesn't have to be built up quite so thickly. A healthy helping of Seche Vite top coat, and it was good to go. Despite the application woes, I'm enjoying this one... can't stop admiring my nails!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wunkle Wednesday: Cerveza en la Playa

My previous post about a nail polish that reminded me of the Turks and Caicos got me to daydreaming about my past Caribbean vacations, so I figured that was a good jumping-off point for today's Wunkle Wednesday post. This particular photo is from the Money Bar, a lovely little beach club in Cozumel. Wunkle enjoyed our afternoon there, but was very disappointed to find that they didn't serve Corona, which he was wanting in order to create his own version of that company's beachy ads.

After his initial dismay, he decided to settle for some Dos Equis instead... and frankly, I think the green bottle is much prettier than a Corona bottle would have been! Hey, Dos Equis, Munky Wunkle wants you to know that he's available when you decide to get rid of that old dude spokesman.

"The Most Interesting Munky in the World."
Munky Wunkle says, "Stuffed monkeys don't always drink beer, but when they do, they prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends!"

Mini Mani Review: Rainbow Honey "Waves"

So in my previous review of Rainbow Honey's May Mini Mystery Bag, I seem to recall stating that I probably wouldn't use the included polish called "Waves," because I don't like blue polishes. Well, words = eaten. Last night I decided to try it out before sending it off to the trade bin, and I actually like it quite a bit.

Two coats, topped with Seche Vite, outdoors, cloudy.
As I said in that aforementioned review, the only thing that made me think I might not hate this polish was the greenish cast that reminded me of swimming in the shallow seas around the Turks and Caicos. On my nails, two coats turn into a turquoise shimmer that does, indeed, look like the prettiest waters the Caribbean has to offer.

Which reminds me... is it time for another cruise yet?
I did find the formula a little gloopy, but not terribly hard to work with, and it went on opaque in two coats, without leaving the streaks that so often bug me in polishes of this type. I'm definitely enjoying the shiny little vacation on my fingertips! If I had longer nails, I might even try my hand at a little beach-style nail art with this.

Side note: this is my first time sharing my stubby, pitiful little nails with you, dear reader. Please have mercy on them, they do try so hard to be pretty! I also can't figure out how other bloggers hold their bottles so gracefully for photos, with all their nails perfectly lined up on display, and without their fingers looking like little bent-up sausages. I'm working on it, I promise!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Review: June 2014 Charleston Epicurean Box

Ah, Charleston. My best friend moved to the Holy City a few years back, and every time I visit her, it gets a little harder to come back to the Bluegrass. I've been known to spend entire days just wandering South of Broad, taking pictures of window boxes overflowing with flowers and the city's traditional wrought-iron gates... kayaking on Shem Creek... watching the amazing artistry of the sweetgrass weavers at the City Market... breathing in the scent of the Confederate jasmine in my bestie's backyard... burying my toes in the sand at Breach Inlet... and dear baby Jesus, the food!

Munky Wunkle really enjoys exploring Charleston's military history. Fort Moultrie, I think? Or maybe the Battery...
I've recently discovered the world of subscription boxes, so when I stumbled across the brand-new Charleston Epicurean box, I knew I had to check it out. Charleston Epicurean promises "the best of local Charleston food and artisanal style," which rings all my bells as a lover of the Lowcountry, culinary goodness, and unique little finds. I signed up for a three-month subscription, and my first box has arrived (lightning-fast shipping, I might add). Let's dig in, y'all!

First up: the stamp on the box itself. I love a couple of things about this... first, the wrought-iron gate design, which I didn't notice features a fork until I was writing this review! Clever design indeed. I also like the little extra personalized touch a stamp lends, as opposed to a pre-printed box or label. Inside the lid of the box was an attractive insert with a little blurb about each item, an inclusion that I appreciate.

 And now, on to the contents...
  • The New Primal Spicy Grass-Fed Beef Jerky (2 oz., $7.59): I'm a selective jerky eater; I've disliked more kinds than I've liked, but I've been known to find certain types that float my boat. I tend to enjoy teriyaki-flavored jerky, so I was excited to see that this jerky is flavored with tamari and ginger, and sweetened with honey and pineapple juice. It's made from grass-fed beef... here I must admit that my carnivore palate is not refined enough to distinguish between cows, but for those who can tell the difference, there ya go. I also prefer a moist jerky as opposed to the über-tough, overly dry variety, and this jerky has a touch of tenderness that I appreciate. The New Primal is not joking when they call this jerky spicy... and that's the downside of it for me. I like a good tingle of heat, but this is "get me a glass of milk RIGHT FREAKIN' NOW" spicy for me, and I didn't even make it through an entire strip before my tongue was protesting. Those with mightier strength against food-fire may enjoy this, but I have to take a pass. So, would I buy? Not the spicy kind, but I do find myself curious about The New Primal's Trail Packs that blend jerky, nuts, and dried fruit.
  • Mike's Famous Original Deep Fried Peanuts (8 oz., $4.00) I have to admit to feeling an instant twinge of disappointment when I spotted these peanuts in the box, because I immediately thought of boiled peanuts, which, in my opinion, are one of the South's greatest culinary failings. Thankfully, these fried specimens are infinitely more palatable than their slimy boiled counterparts. The deep-frying process makes the shells easily chewable with a pleasant bit of crunch, which also makes these peanuts much less messy to eat since they don't have to be shelled (always a bonus). I received the "Salted" variety, but the salting was very light, and I could have done with a bit more seasoning. (Mike's also offers a variety of other flavors, including Old Bay and Cinnamon Sugar, which sound more interesting than plain old salted.) So, would I buy? Hmm... I suppose I might try some of Mike's other flavored peanuts if I stumbled across them, but I wouldn't go out of my way. There are other salty snacks that I just like better than peanuts, and there's nothing mind-blowingly different about them when they're fried, except that the shell becomes more easily edible.
  • Charleston Favorites Charleston Red Rice (8 oz., $4.95): This dish is a Lowcountry classic that can be prepared as a side dish, or bulked up with some sausage or seafood to make a meal of it. The mix is very simple: rice, sun-dried tomatoes, and dried onion... I'm a little skeptical, because bacon doesn't come into play either in the mix or in the additional ingredients called for in the recipe on the bag (except as a garnish), and pork fat is a pretty traditional component of this dish. Not to go all Emeril on you or anything, but pork fat rules! I'll probably wind up sneaking some into this when I prepare it. Side note: I'm generally terrible at cooking rice, because I always manage to burn the bottom of it, so here's hoping I can break the streak this time! I think this will also provide an opportune moment to finally bust out the Charleston Rice Spoon I received as a gift when I became a supporter of Charleston's Drayton Hall. (If you haven't been to Drayton Hall, it's worth a visit as an interesting counterpoint to the other area plantations.) Also, how stinkin' cute is that teeny-tiny Tabasco bottle tied on with a bow? So, would I buy? Jury's out on this one for the time being.
  • Olde Colony Bakery Benne Wafers (5 oz., $3.99): I'm a bit ashamed to admit that in all the times I've been to Charleston, I'd never gotten around to trying a benne wafer. Benne wafers are a mainstay of Charleston cuisine rooted in East Africa; "benne," or sesame, was first brought to America in the days of the slave trade (a sad but fascinating part of Charleston's history). Despite their origin, eating benne wafers is actually supposed to bring GOOD luck, so maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket, because I can't stop nibbling on these crispy little nuggets of deliciousness! These toothsome wafers hit a beautiful balance of salty and sweet, with a delicate nutty flavor from the sesame seeds, a touch of caramel depth, and a really satisfying crunch... the closest flavor comparison I can come up with is some serious bomb-diggity peanut brittle, but that doesn't really do them any justice. So, would I buy? In a heartbeat, and I'm also super-curious about some of the other confections available on the website... Pecan Peachies? Leila's Lemon Snaps? Razzberry Sassies? Yep, this will probably warrant a visit to the Olde Colony Bakery next time I'm in town.
  • Blackjack Barbecue Dry Rub (5 oz., $4.95): Okay, please don't revoke my Southern citizenship, but I am really just not a fan of 99% of the barbecue genre. (Disclaimer: before you run me out of town on a rail, please know that of the barbecue dishes I have liked in the past, darn near all of them were of the Carolina vinegary mustard-based variety.) Anyway, given my general barbecue-related disdain, as soon as I laid eyes on this spice blend, I was planning on passing it on to my dad. First, though, I cracked it open to take a perfunctory sniff for reviewing purposes... and then I had to take a little taste... and now I think I'll need to keep it and try it on some chicken soon! While the ingredient list doesn't really contain anything unexpected in a barbecue blend (chili powder, paprika, cayenne, etc.), the garlic flavor is more potent than in a lot of other blends, so since garlic is like crack to me, I'm kind of digging it. Also, I don't detect any cumin, which is a flavor note I just don't like, so that's a check mark in the "pro" column. So, would I buy? Jury's out... I mean, I kind of doubt it, since I've got other garlicky seasonings that I love, but I have been surprised before!
  • Artistic Aperture Charleston Letters Photo (~$5.00?): First, please do your best to ignore the big white oval that's censoring my last name... not that I think you're going to become an obsessed blog fan and stalk me down, but still. Anyway, I'm no stranger to this whole "architectural letters" thing; I'd actually seen them before in several Charleston-area shops, although I don't think those were by this particular individual. (I've also seen them here in my hometown of Louisville, which means that they lose some of their Charlestonian uniqueness in my eyes.) I do think that the idea is clever enough, but the execution here leaves a bit to be desired. In her "About Me" section, the photographer describes herself as an amateur, and it does show; some letters are represented MUCH more effectively than others. Anyway, the item included here is a 4x6" glossy print that spells out "HOME" and is personalized with my last name. It's not to my taste, but my mother liked it and immediately snatched it up for herself. Given my druthers, I'd much rather have had a single-letter print of my initial, which would suit my more graphic tastes. Oh, and for the record, I'm estimating the value of this item based on the website's stated price of $4.00 for a 4x6" print, plus a dollar for the extra smidgen of time it took to type in my last name. So, would I buy? No... it's just not my jam.
Overall, this first Charleston Epicurean experience was a mixed bag (mixed box?) for me. The value of the box rings in at $31.48, give or take a bit for my estimate on the photo print. I signed up for a three-month subscription for $99 (shipping included), which works out to $33 a month (a single month is $35), so from a dollar-for-dollar standpoint, did I get my money's worth? Not quite. But as with most subscription boxes, part of the value is in the experience. I may not have been thrilled with everything in the box, but I'll pass my unloved items on to someone who will enjoy them... and regardless, I definitely got a taste of the Lowcountry that I love! This may sound silly, but I think part of the reason I'm not in love with this box is that to me, it somehow seemed to skew "masculine." In fact, if I hadn't opened almost everything to try, this box would have made a pretty solid Father's Day gift next week! The May box (which I sadly missed out on) seemed much more "me" with the inclusion of more confections and little toiletries, and I hope to see some more bits and bobs like those in my upcoming boxes.

If you're interested in checking out Charleston Epicurean for yourself, the subscription page can be found here. While I realize that my review of this particular box wasn't exactly glowing, I do want you to know that I'm not at all disappointed in my choice to subscribe, and I'm absolutely looking forward to seeing what surprises my next two boxes have to offer as Charleston Epicurean continues to grow!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wunkle Wednesday: Gone Golfing

So for a hot minute, a few years back, I dated a guy who was an avid golfer, and therefore I felt the need to try to learn the art of golfing. I stuck with it for a while, and I actually wasn't half-bad... but Munky Wunkle was better. Here he is, trying to line up the perfect putt.

Look at that laser focus!
That guy, who actually thought Wunkle's photos were hilarious and invited him along on our very first date (where this photo was taken), made wood carvings as a hobby. He later whittled Wunkle his own munky-sized golf club. True story.
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