Graze review-I attempt to eat fruits and vegetables

“Stop, oh yes, wait a minute Mr.Postman, wait, oh yes, wait a minute Mr. Postman.”

The lyrics above from the classic Motown hit capture perfectly my feelings toward receiving mail. However, rather than a love letter, my choice deliverables are snacks.

Goodness knows the trend of monthly mailings has increased. My first foray into regular goodie boxes has been with Graze.

Originally based in the U.K., Graze sends you a brown box of four different healthy snacks, individually wrapped.

At first, Graze codes were difficult to come by. You either had to receive a code from a friend, (each customer got one code to give out), or join a wait list. Fortunately, a coworker handed over her code, and seeing as I love to receive mail and am competitive when it comes to joining clubs that are difficult to get into, I signed up for Graze.

Imagine, hours upon hours of scanning through snacks, categorizing them as either “trash,” “try,” “like,” or “love.”

In theory, the subscription is useful if you’re looking to regulate your snack intake and eat healthier. As with almost everything in life, the subscription has its benefits, and disadvantages.

Note: For some reason I have zero photos of any of the snack boxes. Use your imagination or just visit Graze to see some pictures of the food, or read their FAQs which I’m sure explain the service much more eloquently.

Pros:

1. This stuff is healthy!

I’m a lover of all things fried, sugary, and cannot resist the occasional bag of Cheetos. These little packs are very convenient, since they’re small and can be stashed in a desk drawer or in a purse or bag. Instead of heading to the vending machine or drive thru, they’re very handy and a filling enough, but not huge portion. Seeing as how I avoid fruits and vegetables at all cost, they’re a good source of nutrition.

2. Convenience

If you don’t live near a health store like Whole Foods or Sprouts, Graze snacks can be a good replacement for some interesting dried produce you wouldn’t be able to find in a regular supermarket. Also, if you’re incredibly busy and don’t have time to shop, getting boxes in the mail can be super convenient and a big time saver.

3. Flexibility

Initially, Graze boxes only ran on a weekly basis, but later added new plans, including receiving a box every two weeks, or every four weeks. I switched to the two week plan, and later four month plan so I could continue my subscription without being inundated with snacks every week.

Cons:

1. Price

At $5/$6 a box depending on your join date, the boxes aren’t exactly cheap. Taking into consideration a small pack of sunflower seeds would thus run at about $1.25, it would be much more cost-effective to buy the same product in bulk at Whole Foods. $20 a month for a weekly box may seem like a bargain, but the same amount of money could be used to buy at least double the amount of food from a regular grocery store.

2. No control over selection

Although you can give your preferences for each snack on the website, you can’t guarantee that you will receive a certain snack you’d want to try. Services like Naturebox allow you to pick specific snacks, or leave some selections up for random. Graze won’t let you select exactly what you’d like sent. Certain snacks like the pina colada dried fruit mix or chili pistachios I would purchase in bulk in a minute, or at least have sent every month. However, you can’t directly control what you receive, and if you don’t update your preferences, could end up with duplicates of things you did not enjoy.

3. Limited offerings

This is more applicable to picky eaters like myself, but some of the ingredients in many of the snacks are in almost every selection. For instance, I just can’t do raisins. Eliminating the snacks with raisins took a good number of trail mixes and fruit mixes out of the running. Again, this is a problem for me specifically, not the service. The UK service has desserts, as well as tea…which I would love. Unfortunately, the US service is more limited.

Note: I also started the subscription in the summer, so it was incredibly hot outside. Some of the best snack mixes had chocolate, which unfortunately, melted within a short time in the mailbox. Keep in mind freezing or hot weather when rating snacks.

Final thoughts:

I subscribed for about 8 months, and decided to put my deliveries on hold. Ultimately, I wasn’t using the service as intended, since I would stash the snacks that didn’t necessarily appeal to me. It wasn’t cost effective to continue, even though I was on the most infrequent plan as it was. It was fun to receive a mystery box every week, and sample different snacks. However, the costs added up for food I wasn’t always eating.

Let me know! Do you subscribe to Birchbox, Naturebox, or any other fun subscription?

 

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Is it tea you’re looking for? (Teavana review)

lionel-richie-hello-o

Hello? I love a good tea-related pun, this one courtesy of Lionel.

Segway goes here…so as I’ve become even more addicted to all things British, Sherlock, Prince George, and beautiful Kate and Pippa being just a few of my favorites, I find myself drinking tea on a daily basis.

A wannabe Brit’s guide to all things tea

 

Tea Graphic

Don't mind if I do

Don’t mind if I do

As a student, unfortunately I don’t have the best resources to brew myself the best, so tea bags are usually my go to.

However, after visiting a lovely Tea House over spring break, I set my mind to stepping up my tea game.

Now my mother has excellent tea resources, from great pots with build in filter cups, to that fancy plastic thing that steeps itself and you put on top of your cup to drain (what an eloquent description), but my barebones apartment doesn’t have such equipment, nor am I feeling free enough to purchase said goods.

So, I found a little strainer ball thing that has a lovely hook I can clip to the side of my mug, to brew myself a gorgeous cuppa when I’m chillaxing, working, or winding down at night. (jk, see “insomnia” post here.)

For loose tea, Teavana has been the best bet thus far. I was gifted a tin ofearl grey creme, a black tea. What I like about Teavana’s mixes is that it’s other funky ingredients like vanilla pieces, or dried fruit in addition to the tea leaves. It’s a nice vanilla-y tea, fairly mild, without a major caffeine jolt or overly strong tea taste. It’s heavy on the creme flavor.

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Earl Grey Creme, photo from Teavana. I don’t have pretty bowls, so let’s rely on their gorgeous pictures.

Today, I finally stumbled into the nearest shopping center with a Teavana, with the intent to buy a green tea to add to my stash. Granted, Teavana has a wide selection. Since I figured I might as well pick something snazzy, I bought 2 oz. of the Jade Citrus Mint variety. It’s heavy on the lemongrass, and has a nice citrus kick to it. Overall, it’s very mild as well, and is low on the caffeine scale, but high in anti-oxidants. After reading of the health benefits, I’m attempting to drink a cup a day. It also smells wonderfully. If you’re going to splurge on fancy loose tea, might as well pick something unique, right?

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Jade Citrus Mint. photo from Teavana. Is it weird if I name my future daughter after this tea?

Since I don’t live close to a store, I picked up a second loose tea as well. For the past two years, I’ve been drinking Yerba Mate as a morning substitute for coffee. Granted, I don’t always wake up early enough to brew a batch and pour it in a thermos, so I do still buy cups of coffee. But to save money, I try to drink tea instead, also to avoid having brown pirate-y teeth in the future.

Whole Foods’ Yerba Mate tea bags are great, and do contain a good enough amount of caffeine to do the trick in the morning. I can’t really compare its taste to anything else, but it is similar to a plain hot green tea, but with a bolder flavor.

Teavana has multiple varieties of Mate tea. I also picked up 2 oz. of the Caribbean Calypso Mate Tea, which smells divine. I’m a fan of all things tropical, the Caribbean Passion smoothie at Jamba Juice being a favorite, so this tea seemed like a fun variety. In addition to the tea leaves, this mix has pieces of dried apples, mango, pineapple, and coconut. It’s also low on the caffeine scale, but unlike green tea, isn’t listed on the anti-oxidant scale. Still, for those who aren’t into tea, it’s a good fruity variety.

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 I’m tempted to just eat this mix. So pretty. Is this what heaven smells like?

Note: My handy dandy tea ball strainer hasn’t been the most effective for brewing tea with really fine leaves. I decided to do a science experiment, along with guidance from other thrifty people on the Google, and attempted to brew my own tea using my coffee maker. Lo and behold, it worked! Granted, tea experts would probably be horrified, but I just used a coffee filter, put about a tablespoon of loose tea (more than you would put directly into a strainer for a mug since the tea won’t be soaking for as long), and let ‘er brew. I’ve just been refilling the water throughout the day and using the same leaves, and have brewed about 8 cups total thus far with just that batch. I don’t taste any coffee flavor or anything, and my machine is just a simple, one button Mr. Coffee. The Keurig reusable cup would do the trick as well.

My dream tea date

My dream tea date

So, all that being said, let’s all take an hour this week to brew or steep a nice cuppa, curl up with a good book or movie, and relax.

Are you a tea drinker? Got any interesting methods or gadgets? Do you hate tea? Any favorite flavors?

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21 at 21

I absolutely cannot believe that 365 days have passed since my birthday (or Name Day as they call it in Westeros). Since I’m terribly sentimental, I’ve compiled a list of 21 accomplishments and memories from the past year. 21 was fun, but it’s been a challenging year in some ways, so I’m ready for a whole new year.

In no particular order, here are 21 highlights from the my stint as a 21-year-old.

1. First off, I turned 21. (No, I did not go crazy. I am a hermit after all. However, I did enjoy several classy, and cocktail-accompanied birthday dinners.)

2. Officially became a California girl once again.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

 

3. Lived absolutely, completely, all by myself for two weeks. and I LOVED IT.

4. Had a classy grown-up brunch with my old high school friends, whom I don’t see nearly as often as I’d like.

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5. Went to Disneyland 5 times. Preteen me would be so jealous.

 

6. Had high tea on the Queen Mary then walked through the Royal Family exhibit. Did not see any ghosts unfortunately.

7. Worked for the university newspaper and made a bunch of new and very talented friends (sub highlight: Cards Against Humanity at the End of Term/Christmas Party)

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8. Watched every single episode of the Doctor Who reboot.

9. Played way too many games of Clue with my roommate, and laughed way too hard in the process.

10. Rode a beach cruiser on Balboa Island.

11. Saw Hillsong in concert and shared a special and unique experience with the sweetest new friends.

12. Experienced my first ever snow day…which turned into three subsequent snow days.

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13. Bought my first pair of rain boots, and wore them throughout snow, and ice storms. (Natalie Portman and I are boot twins now.)

 

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14. Learned how to design on Photoshop, edit videos on multiple softwares, and mix audio tracks.

15. Fulfilled my pipe dream of writing a sitcom, and laughed my way through writing, filming, and editing with very talented friends and classmates.

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16. Worked my bum off doing two internships at once, learning valuable life lessons from people older and wiser than I am

17. Put socks on my dog.

18. Won a bronze award in my advertising class by myself. I worked by myself instead of with a team, and still managed to get an honorable mentions for a Crocs ad. Crocs!

19. Had all you can eat Korean barbecue with my dad and ate my weight in meat. Also left smelling like dog’s dream.

20. Confirmed, via Pottermore, that I am officially a Gryffindor.

21. Met the man of my dreams.

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Here’s looking at you 22.

Fixing my face: Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic review

Let me preface this post by saying that I love a good face mask.

In fact, one of my first birthday parties was a Mary Kay party. What could be more adorable than a bunch of six years old putting exfoliating masks on their face, and then going overboard with makeup to the point where they look like the Joker?

Today, a dear friend and I ended up taking a (just down the) road trip to the nearest mall a few towns away.

After taking care of all the necessary errands, we stopped into Lush, where I had my eye on some of the face masks.

Now, my skin can be very temperamental, and granted, I’m terrible with making sure I remove all makeup and moisturize. My routine consists of washing my face, and cleaning with some benzoil peroxide face wipes. I tend to breakout due to stress or diet (how much cheese I eat) so a face mask with fresh ingredients seemed like a good remedy to perk up my skin.

Based on their descriptions, I decided to get the Catastrophe Cosmetic mask. I’ve tried Lush products before, mostly bath bars or soap bars, but never one of the face masks. I was tempted to try more than one since they’re affordable at $6.95 each. Unfortunately, they come with fairly short expiration dates of about a month each. After sniffing a couple, I stuck with the lovely blueberry scented mask.

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Channeling my inner Elphaba

After washing my face, I layered on the mask. It’s fairly thick, so it took a bit of time to try to evenly coat my skin. The directions say to leave on for 5-10 minutes, but I got distracted since Thor 2 is on again, and left it on for about 15 minutes. Still, it wasn’t completely dry, and came off fairly easy without having to use a washcloth or scrub off anything as with some other masks. The mask is gray, with blueberry chunks, no exfoliating beads or anything.

Immediately afterwards, my skin felt much softer, and I moisturized with my generic Neutrogena moisturizer.

From what I’ve read online, results are typically positive, so hopefully the mask does more good. My skin varies with the weather, so I made sure to moisturize in case the mask does dry my face a bit.

My shopping companion got the Love lettuce mask, so we’ll do a mask swap at some point.

To sum it all up, the mask is lovely, and I wish I had unlimited money so I could buy out an entire Lush store.

UPDATE: I’ve been using the blueberry mask for a few weeks now. I have noticed my face is generally softer, from using it about 3 times a week, but I haven’t noticed a big change in erasing blemishes or eliminating redness.

The love lettuce mask, on the other hand, does burn a bit, although it’s more of a “this is doing something!” burn than actually painful. I also like the exfoliation aspect of it. It has a great minty scent. I’d have to try more masks to gauge which is the most effective for my skin type, but overall, no harm done at least.

Fed up with the set-up

prince blog pic

Ah, the perils of early twenty-something-dom. Inevitably, post high school graduation, and the closer you inch to college graduation, the next major step, or at least hot topic of conversation, turns to marriage.

Or as I like to call it…

mawwage

The older I get, (yes, I realize I’m not actually old at all thank goodness) the more I realize that until that (hopefully) hunk of a rock is on my finger, every Tom, Dick, and Harry will inquire as to my romantic perils.

Specifically, it’s more of an Karen, Susan, and Tiffany, since most males I’ve met fortunately tend to have no interest in my dating life.

Alas, seeing as I am a deceptively nice person, who, as I was once told is “not ugly,” well-meaning friends, family, and random acquaintances instantaneously take it upon themselves to find me a husband.

*Disclaimer. I’m watching Thor 2 while writing this, so this post may turn into a Chris Hemsworth appreciation forum. Just a warning.

At times, it can be extremely frustrating to be likened to a commodity of sorts. Like any single male and I are like two chemical substances that can be thrown into a test tube, and have some kind of spark. (see what I did there?)

The majority of the time, it is funny to see what eligible bachelors are presented to me, as if all single people are cards in a game of memory, just to be randomly flipped over, in hopes of a match.

If you do decide to try to find me a husband, please use this as a template.

If you do decide to try to find me a husband, please use this as a template.

PSA: On behalf of all single people, do not feel it is your duty to find me a husband. Unless you are a matchmaker by trade, or Patti from The Millionaire Matchmaker, it is simply alright to respond to my answer that I am single, with an “Oh” followed by a smile, joke about how you wish you were still single, or kind statement about how I’m still young, and there are plenty of fish in the sea.

Feel no obligation whatsoever to run through your brain archives for any single nephews, neighbors, coworkers, baristas, dentists, doctors, aliens, lumberjacks, that you think might like, or at least tolerate me.

Not to say that single people are completely free of guilt in this predicament. I more often than not will look at your picture or listen to your verbal descriptions of said eligible bachelor, and will instantly respond with a “yes, hook a sister up,” “no thanks,” “ew,” or any other natural response.

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But when I think about if the situation was reversed, I hate the thought of being judged. Whether based on a picture, where I unfortunately display a beautiful double-chin, a highlight reel of my faults, or any other unintentionally unattractive criterion, I don’t want to be judged.

Thus, rather than immediately dismiss the prospect of marriage, or mentally walk down the aisle with a guy I’ve been offered, I’m going to pause. and think about the other person, and how I’d feel to be rejected through a third party by a guy.

Married friends, or friends in a relationship, we’re okay if we’re single.

 

If you are going to set us up, don’t tell us, so we get all weird like Michael Scott/”Date Mike” when under pressure to be charming and live up to your most likely inflated description of us.


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To end this on a happy note, my father always tells me that while set ups may be cumberbatch cumbersome for the time being, if I was a totally gross or repulsive person, people wouldn’t be taking the steps to try to find me a guy. So I guess I’m doing something right if people think I’m worthy of a man.

That last statement makes me wonder if I’m watching too many Jane Austen movies.

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Saying no to all-nighters

LOL.

LOL.

I can’t sleep.

No, not just tonight. Ever. I may just name my daughter Insomnia. (Poor future Insomnia is probably praying she’ll be born a boy.)

I’m the queen of having brilliant, world-changing ideas, right as my head hits the pillow. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to fall asleep. My bed, cars, airplanes, you name it, I am staying awake.

Several other members of my family, who shall remain unnamed, can fall asleep like it’s nobody’s business.

Apparently when the Good Lord divided up the sleep talent, he didn’t divvy it up quite evenly.

Anyway, in college, I can only ever recall one all-nighter. The first came as a result of postponing writing a 10 page paper in the hopes the professor would forget about it until the last minute, and thus cancel it. (It wasn’t until about 2 a.m. that I decided on a topic, (Gender equality in professional sports) and finally ran with it.)

Wishful thinking. Good thing I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal.

Thus, I can’t say I understand the “I’ll just pull an all-nighter mentality.” Come hell or high water, at some point before the sun rises, I will be in my bed. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those lucky souls who can go sans sleep, and function normally.

Nope. Sleep deprived, and most likely caffeine-riddled me can’t do it. I crash. Leslie Knope style.

Leslie Knope. I feel ya.

Leslie Knope. I feel ya.

Maybe it’s part of my early onset, Grandma-dom. I just can’t do all-nighters. I can’t. I also can’t sleep upright, so forget about sneakily sleeping in class. I end up dreaming about riding a bike, and then when I inevitably fall of said dream bike, jolt up, knocking things off my desk in the process. Worth the risk? Nah.

Until I master the art of sleeping with my eyes open, I’ll be forever constrained to taking every herbal sleep remedy the good folks at Whole Foods can sell me on, and trying to make myself tired whilst coming up with the next Great American Novel at 3:12 a.m.

Sleeping Beauty. Also, typography ftw!

Sleeping Beauty. Also, typography ftw!

How I Met Your Mother, but fast forwarded through all the important parts

Oh Tracy. We hardly knew you. Photo from Washington Post

Oh Tracy. We hardly knew you. Photo from Washington Post

How I Met Your Mother premiered when I was 13. 13! That means I’ve been watching the gang of five gallivant through NYC for just a little less that half of my life. (well, give or take a few years. #Math)

Needless to say, I equally dreaded and couldn’t wait for the season finale. I have stuck with Ted Mosby on his amusing, yet sometimes pathetic, journey to find love.

I read the message boards. I read the comments. I knew what people were saying. All the rumors swirled in my mind. Yet the (sliver of an) optimist in me held on to the hope that they were wrong.

Because sometimes in life, well in television life at least, people can have happy endings right?

I guess I stand corrected.

At approximately 8:55 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, I knew I was wrong.

It was then that good old Theodore quickly recounted his life with the Mother, in what seemed like just one minute, from their spur of the moment marriage, to her terminal sickness.

Granted, I’m way more invested in television than I should be, but I felt like I had been punched.

And to make matters worse, when we finally saw Ted “interact” with the kids, they called him out for only mentioning the Mother minimally. His entire story had been about their “Aunt Robin.” Said children encouraged him to go after him. And he did. Cut to black.

Hold the phone. This entire SEASON has been about Robin’s wedding. Not to Ted. But to Barney. Heck, Ted even met the Mother/adorable Tracy at the wedding (technically, it was at the train station afterwards, but I’m trying to make a point here.)

Just get together in real life.

Just get together in real life.

Now, let’s step out of the t.v. writers’ mindset here. Why do I care about the ending so much?

For starters, let’s just say as I’ve gotten older, I’ve empathized more and more with Ted Mosby. I couldn’t exactly bond with Marshall or Lily- the longterm couple who also happen to be best friends and are just plain perfect for each other. Nope, not me. But I’ve been fortunate to be the Ted in a trio, which has only strengthened my ability to be an impeccable third wheel.

I’m not a Barney, seeing as how I have 0.0 game with the opposite gender. Also he’s just generally awesome, and I never wear suits. (Well, once I did. But it was in the name of acting. Back when I was an act-or.)

Robin and I have a love for dogs in common. But girlfriend had game, and could hang with the boys. I wouldn’t call myself a girly-girl by any means, but man, she gets sports. and laser tag, and beer. Other than the fact that I’m studying the field Robin works in, my life trajectory has been quite different. Also, she constantly has guys pining over her, basically my antithesis. (See above Barney reference)

Robin's dogs. aka my dream life. Photo from EW

Robin’s dogs. aka my dream life. Photo from EW

So I’ve always been the Ted. The one sitting alone amidst the couples. Reading haughty books, occasionally being a know-it-all, and keeping up the general hope that “the Father” in my story would magically pop up.

I guess that’s why the ending hit me so hard. Ted met the Mother. He had kids with the Mother. Seven years later, he married the Mother. But then, as life so unfortunately and mercilessly does to us, he lost the Mother.

But the show isn’t “How I Met Your Aunt Robin.” It’s not enough to fast-forward through Ted’s journey with the Mother, all to reveal that Ted’s back to pining over Robin, some 20-odd years later. Honestly, what was the point of even introducing the Mother in that case? At one point, Robin refers to Ted as “the one I probably should’ve ended up with.” I hate the thought of “the one that got away,” although I’ll confess that I do love the song. It seems like Robin realized things with Barney didn’t work out, and defaulted back to Ted.

Also, I should mention that Barney and Robin got divorced after three years. Yes, despite spending an entire season on their wedding weekend, and starting the finale on their happy wedding ceremony, they split. Where’d you go character development?

They were friends. They hooked up. Broke up. Spent time trying to win each other back. (Hello, episode where Robin changes her mind and stays with lame Kevin instead of going back to Barney who has to hold back tears.)

So what was the point of them? I get that that’s real life, and couples don’t last.

I guess my main question is, what was the point? Why tell the story at all? It’s one thing to finally get to Ted’s current life, which granted is immensely sad seeing as the Mother is gone, but sad endings work. Sometimes love doesn’t last or we lose people we love. (For good “ending up alone” endings, see the Ugly Betty finale.)

So, is the point that Ted and Robin were meant to be together the whole time? That a couple that wasn’t compatible, even went so far as to marry other people after convincing themselves, and other people, that they wouldn’t end up together, will eventually get together?

Let’s end on a happy note here. Best part of the episode: Barney’s monologue with his baby. No further comment. Just watch it.